Cold Prosecutor Indicts Punxsutawney Phil for Fraud
An Ohio prosecutor tired of a prolonged winter has indicted Punxsutawney Phil for fraud after the famed groundhog predicted an early spring.
Butler County Prosecutor Michael T. Gmoser is also seeking the death penalty for Phil.
"It was kind of one of those brainstorm moments," Gmoser told ABCNews.com. "I woke up in a snow storm. The wind was blowing and howling. The temperature was in the teens."
Gmoser indicted Punxsutawney Phil on one count of misrepresentation of Spring, an unclassified felony, against the peace and dignity of the state of Ohio. "Phil let us down," Gmoser said.
On Feb. 2, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow and did not see his shadow, predicting an early spring.
In his indictment, the prosecutor stated, "Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that Spring would come early." Gmoser cited a snowstorm and record low temperatures in Butler County as evidence that Phil's was prediction was grossly inaccurate.
Due to the nature of the groundhog's deceit, Gmoser is seeking the death penalty: "Let's face it. Phil is already behind bars. He's got a life sentence…There's no sentence left for Phil."
Getting rid of Phil could make an opportunity for a new rodent, Gmoser said, "His sister Phyllis."
Gmoser doesn't want to worry Phil fans.
"I actually got calls asking whether or not I was really going to kill Phil," he told ABCNews.com. He said that he wanted to make light of the cold temperatures and a groundhog, a case he said, is "groundbreaking and has legs - four."
The prosecutor suspects that the Pennsylvania town is preparing for Phil's defense. "They're probably going to claim that he didn't know his rear end from a hole in a ground," Gmoser said.
"Doesn't he have better things to do than do this?" Bill Deely, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, told ABCNews.com. Deely said he's to blame for Phil's incorrect prediction because he misinterpreted what the groundhog told him.