We celebrated dozens of schmucks in 2014 -- but who were your favorite Schmucks of the Week this past year? We've collected the top five below, featuring original photos, videos, text and more. Count them down below.
Brendan Higgins. More photos below.
TV anchor Brendan Higgins was a popular personality at Dallas' CBS11, helming the morning program with requisite wackiness. But his schtick didn't go over too well during a bust in Aspen earlier this month -- which is why we used the word was in referring to his status at the station. Learn why this self-described "asshole" got bounced from his gig below.
Just a few short months ago, Higgins, who came to CBS11 in 2012 after a successful seven-year run at Dallas' NBC affiliate reportedly ended amid a contract dispute, was the centerpiece of a promo in which he was said to specialize in waking up Dallas viewers one person at a time. Here's the clip.
But things changed in a big way after TV writer Ed Bark, known as Uncle Barky, revealed the contents of an Aspen Police Department document about Higgins from earlier in the month.
After midnight on August 6, according to the report, Aspen officers were dispatched to The Little Nell, a well-known hotel in the tony town, after receiving word that "a male guest had punched a driver and was being violent with the staff" -- something that allegedly happened as an ultra-drunk Higgins was being carried from a car to the elevator.
When confronted by the cops, Higgins is said to have admitted being a bad boy -- or at least that's how we'd interpret the line "I was an asshole."
Judging by the police narrative, Higgins's confession didn't result in a major behavior upgrade. As he was being taken into custody, he reportedly called the cops "fucking pieces of shit" and announced, "I'm going to beat you until you're dead." But these reactions were mere preludes to the incident's highlight.
The police report notes:
Higgins then attempted to strike me using a swiping motion with his hands. I pushed Higgins towards the elevator doors, which he was standing a few inches from. Higgins hit the elevator with his head and then pretended to pass out and slumped to the floor. I could tell that Higgins had not actually passed out because he was giggling.
This stunt apparently resulted in the gash across Higgins's nose visible in his booking photo -- and it seems to have done a number on his sense of humor, too. The cops say he kicked at them as they put him in a "hobble restraint," then told paramedics called to check him out that he would "beat them till they die."
Bet they didn't giggle.
Higgins and co-anchor Adrienne Bankert in a photo from his Facebook page.
The news broke in Dallas on August 15, and four days later, Higgins posted this response on his Facebook page:
If my e-mail inbox is any indication, many of you are wondering about a recent incident in Aspen, Colo., that resulted in my arrest. Sorry it took so long to issue a post as I've been dealing with the related matters. First, I need to apologize for the negative attention this incident has brought to my wife and our family, our friends and the many wonderful people I've worked with over the years. I'm also sorry to the authorities in Aspen, who do a great job every day. I simply put myself and others in a bad situation, which will not happen again. My plan is to answer the legal charges against me. Thanks to all of you who have sent your support.
This mea culpa doesn't seem to have garnered much sympathy from station management. He wasn't on the air Tuesday morning, and a CBS11 rep responding to a subsequent inquiry from DFW.com replied that Higgins was "no longer with the station."
His dismissal should free him up for an upcoming September 6 court appearance in Aspen on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. In the meantime, we encourage him to enjoy sleeping in -- and to bask in the honor of being our latest Schmuck of the Week.
Here's the full-size version of Higgins's booking photo.
Continue to keep counting down 2014's five most popular Schmucks of the Week. Number 4: Jake and Kendra Warrum Accused of Sleazy Plan to Burn Down House, Collect Donations
Jake and Kendra Warrum may well have qualified for Schmuck of the Week status based enitrely on an alleged plan to burn down their house for insurance money. But they became locks for this week's nod because they apparently allowed neighbors to collect money -- a lot of money -- to help them make a fresh start after a tragedy police believe they caused themselves.
According to KKTV in Colorado Springs, Warrum is (or at least was) a staff sergeant based at Fort Carson and assigned to the 71st ordinance group, a unit that specializes in explosives -- meaning he has more than a little experience with flammable stuff. In addition, he's said to own a "side business that manufactures holsters for guns."
Business may not have been all that great. An arrest affidavit obtained by the Colorado Springs Gazette maintains that Warrum increased the insurance coverage on his home, located at 7568 Chasewood Loop, in the days before the structure went up in flames.
Afterward, the Warrums' neighbors pitched in to help out the young couple. KKTV estimates that approximately $1,000 was raised -- a total that included the savings of several kids who are said to have contributed the contents of their piggy banks.
Bet investigators wish they'd been able to warn them against handing over their pennies in advance. KRDO-TV reveals that the house smelled of gasoline when firefighters arrived on the scene. They subsequently found two fuel containers that didn't have to be emblazoned with a label reading "Arson Evidence" to get the cops' thoughts headed in that direction.
The noose tightened thanks to a surveillance camera that captured footage of a truck driving past the house shortly before the fire got started -- and the vehicle matched one Warrum had borrowed from a buddy ID'd by the Gazette as Ty Kludt, another Fort Carson soldier.
Well, maybe "buddy" is too strong a term, as you'll see.
The Warrums had told police they'd been camping when their house ignited, but the cops had their doubts; Jake told them they'd slept in a tent, while Kendra, quizzed separately, said they'd bunked in their car. And these suspicions were affirmed when Kludt reportedly reached out to say Warrum had offered him between $5,000 and $10,000 to say the truck had been either sold or stolen.
Rather than taking the money, Kludt cooperated with police by luring Jake into a conversation in which the latter allegedly confessed to causing the conflagration.
Hence, the Warrums' arrest -- him on suspicion of arson and an attempt to bribe a witness, her on a conspiracy beef.
We'd add a charge of making it difficult for a bunch of kids to ever trust a grownup again. Here are the booking photos of Jake and Kendra, followed by a KRDO-TV report.
Continue to keep counting down 2014's five most popular Schmucks of the Week. Number 3: Kenneth Wheeler, Schmuck, Gets Forty Months in Prison for Facebook Death Threats
Last September, when we reported that Kenneth Wheeler could get five years in prison for Facebook posts, a lot of you probably thought, "Fat chance." And you were right to be skeptical, albeit only by a matter of degree. Wheeler's now been sentenced to forty months -- just over three years. And that's not all.
What the hell could he have posted to earn that kind of a jolt? For one thing, he encouraged the murder of cops and kids, even providing helpful info about a daycare center.
As we've reported, Wheeler's message probably wasn't widely distributed: Months after his conviction, the Facebook page remains online, and it only shows fifteen friends -- one fewer than it had at the time of our previous post. But the U.S. Attorney's Office took what he typed plenty seriously anyhow.
Among the photos still on view is this one, showing Wheeler pretending to sleep through a class at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction....
...and this one, taken when he was considerably more alert:
Prosecutors say Wheeler, 32, first came to the attention of the local police department after cops received a tip about a a worrisome Facebook post. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel's original article about Wheeler, published in March 2012, describes the item as "rambling" and "often nonsensical," and based on excerpts from the warrant issued in his name -- for instance, the introduction cited the "STARDRAGON celestial override contingency" -- that sounds about right. But underpinning the weirdness were violent statements.
Examples? Wheeler urged folks to go after "rapists, pedophiles and cops," writing, "kill them all. Hang em upside down set their face on fire and saw them in half."
The mention of cops wasn't a general one: He referenced three Grand Junction police officers by name, as well as a specific daycare center in central GJ. He suggested that his "followers" just "walk in and kill everybody. phug it. they want to play games lets play the game of life, where winners live and losers die."
Another Wheeler photo.
Another catchy quote mentioned by the U.S. Attorney's Office: "kill cops. drown them in the blood of their children, hunt them down and kill their entire blood lines" -- but only if "my dui charges are not dropped." The Sentinel reports that he was awaiting trial on a DUI from May 2011.
Apparently, Wheeler felt he could share such thoughts on Facebook with impunity because of his location; he wrote, "the americans cant punish me for what i say here in rome italy on facebook."
A Wheeler portrait.
Turns out Wheeler actually was in Rome -- but authorities with Homeland Security Investigations didn't brush off these remarks due to his locale at the time they went online. Indeed, when he flew back into Grand Junction, he was arrested at the airport.
In mid-September, a jury found Wheeler guilty on two counts of sending interstate threatening communications, after deliberating a whopping 75 minutes. Maximum punishments were listed as up to five years in federal prison and a fine of as much as $250,000 per count, but he wound up getting a bit of a break. The U.S. Attorney's Office notes that U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martinez ordered Wheeler to serve forty months in federal prison, with another three years of supervised probation upon his release. No fines were included in the package.
For that reason, Wheeler should be able to afford Internet access after he serves his time. But when it comes to Facebook, he should think about starting over.
Continue to keep counting down 2014's five most popular Schmucks of the Week. Number 2: Monique Armstrong's Schmucky Decision to Break Into Jail
Monique Armstrong. More photos below.
Here at Schmuck of the Week headquarters, we're all for families that stick together through thick and thin. But even this fine quality can be taken too far.
As evidence, we submit the strange story of Monique Armstrong, a twenty-year-old from Grand Junction who reacted to her brother being jailed by trying to break into the hoosgow -- not to free him, apparently, but to take his place.
Inside the Mesa County Detention Facility.
Courtesy Mesa County Sheriff's Office
As you can see by the photo above, the Mesa County Detention Facility is not the kind of place most people would like to spend quality time. Presumably, then, eighteen-year-old Michael Armstrong, known on his Facebook page as Mikey, wasn't all that thrilled when he was taken there April 27 on suspicion of three offenses, as reported by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: driving under the influence of drugs, driving the wrong way and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The previous month, Monique had an unpleasant brush with the law, too: She was busted on March 22 in regard to theft and first-degree criminal trespass allegations. But she'd long since bonded out when Mikey checked into the Cross Bar Hotel.
Things changed beginning at about 4 a.m. on April 28. According to the Sentinel, Monique called 911 and told the dispatcher she was headed to the jail, where she planned to insist that deputies let her brother go and book her instead.
Mikey Armstrong, as seen in a photo from his Facebook page.
A short time later, deputies reportedly found an abandoned vehicle near the Mesa County Justice Center. Then, an alarm sounded, alerting law enforcers to an issue along the jail's perimeter.
An escape attempt? Far from it. Monique had managed to get beyond the chain-link fencing and razor wire and was on the jail's grounds, where she broke a window and asked deputies to arrest her.
In the Sentinel's pithy phrase, "They obliged."
One more thing: Mikey Armstrong was released that morning at about 8:50 a.m., mere hours after his sister's swap offer went to hell. And we haven't heard about him wanting to trade places with her.
Ingrate. Here's a look at Monique's booking photo:
Continue to keep counting down 2014's five most popular Schmucks of the Week. Number 1: Jeremy and Jamie Ownbey in Wife-Swapping, Punch-Throwing Real Housewives of the DPD?
Jamie Ownbey. More photos and a video below.
Could the off-duty lives of Denver police officers and their significant others make for a spicy reality show? That's the talk at the department after news broke about an investigation into a brawl involving two Denver cops, Jeremy Ownbey and Steven Sloan, as well as their wives, Jamie and Stephanie. Wags are reportedly referring to the episode as The Real Housewives of the DPD.
What started this schmucky dust-up? Well, wife-swapping may have had something to do with it.
CBS4's Brian Maass gets credit for the scoop on this one. He reports that Ownbey and Sloan are best friends who entered the police academy together eight years ago and have since grown so close that they even vacation together.
They apparently share other things in common as well.
According to a police report obtained at the station, the couples came together on May 19 at Sloans' Aurora home.
The Sloans' home, as seen in CBS4 coverage.
However, the Aurora Police Department got involved after the quartet's get-together devolved into a booze-fueled party out of bounds. What set it off? Clues can be found in the following police report excerpt:
"Jamie stated she, Jeremy and Steven have been involved with swinging (amongst themselves) and Steven would like Stephanie (Sloan) to join but she (Stephanie) will not. I asked Jamie (Ownbey) if she had ever been personally intimate with Steven (Sloan), she stated 'yes, during a swing session with Steven and his ex-wife years ago.' Jamie further stated she also participated in two swing sessions with Steven and Jeremy, the most recent was approximately four years ago."
The contact on the 19th wasn't quite so loving, despite reported highlights such as Jamie shedding her top to expose her "lacy undergarments" and supposedly force-feeding Stephanie tequila shots. The document maintains that Sloan "started to fight with Jeremy, with both of them throwing punches at each other.... He admitted to not winning the fight, and after being punched numerous times in the head, he felt as if he was going to lose consciousness."
As such, Sloan "went to get his gun from his truck because he was in fear for his safety and thought he was in danger," the document continues. "Steven stated he punched Jamie in the face for punching Stephanie, and Jamie fell to the ground. Jeremy punched Steven in the face for punching Jamie. Steven stated he then punched Jeremy."
There was initially doubt about whether any of these events would result in criminal charges. Although the APD submitted the case to the Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office with a recommendation of several charges against the Ownbeys, weeks passed with no action taken.
But then on Thursday, mere days after the case went public, the logjam miraculously broke. As 9News reports, Jeremy and Jamie have been hit with two counts of misdemeanor child abuse, because they left their two small kids at home during festivities on the 19th. Plus, Jamie is looking at a misdemeanor assault beef and Jeremy has been accused of trespassing.
Jeremy and Sloan are also under investigation by the Denver Police Department and are currently riding desks as a result.
In addition, the Aurora officers may be facing some punishment of their own. Apparently Jeremy Ownbey drove up to the scene while visibly and admittedly drunk, yet the Aurora cops who watched him did nothing to investigate him on possible DUI charges. Instead, they drove him and his car home.
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No shortage of schmucks in this story. Here's the CBS4 report.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.