The Range

Tweak Out

Pima County Sheriff's Department investigators have fingered John Matthew Kelley as the kingpin of a gang of meth-addled identity thieves. Following Kelley's Nov. 9 arrest on fraud charges, police served a search warrant on his home and confiscated computers, checks, fake IDs and even crude counterfeit bills, according to Deputy Dawn Barkman.

"This guy is bad news," said Barkman.

Charges have been dropped against Kelley while detective Keith Smith sorts though the overwhelming pile of evidence seized in the case.

Identity theft is a popular pastime among meth users. "They dumpster dive; they steal mail out of mailboxes," Barkman said. "When they're doped up, they don't sleep for days. So they have nothing else to do besides put things together and try to think of different ways to rip people off. They really do work night and day, because they don't have to sleep."

In other meth news, The Associated Press reports that Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Layman told an Appalachian anti-drug task force about the sexual side effects of meth use. "Who wouldn't want to use it?" he asked. "You lose weight and have great sex."

White House drug czar John Waters, concerned that Layman's sarcastic comments would only encourage either meth use or sexual activity, warned that the drug makes hair and teeth fall out. "That's not sexy," he said.

Speaking of sex stories in the media this week: The Washington Post reports that some federally funded abstinence programs have been teaching preposterous nonsense to teens, including such fun facts as: 10 percent of women who have abortions end up sterile; HIV can be spread by sweat and tears; half of all gay teenagers are HIV-positive; and Saddam Hussein had vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

The Bush Administration is providing nearly $170 million for groups that teach abstinence-only sex ed programs, which cannot discuss contraception beyond failure rates, according to reporter Ceci Connolly.

Stormy Romance

The Pima County Sheriff's Department released lurid transcripts of interviews related to the investigation of Dr. Bradley Schwartz, who stands accused of hiring Ronald Bruce Bigger to brutally murder his former medical partner, Dr. Brian Stidham, in the parking lot of his medical office in October.

Among the interviewees was local defense attorney and former Pima County prosecutor Lourdes Lopez, who had a "personal and romantic" relationship with Schwartz during the last several years.

Lourdes told investigators that Schwartz frequently discussed hiring someone to kill Stidham. "... There was a period of time where it was pretty much every night when we would get ready to go to bed, and ... it was constant. It was like, 'I'm gonna fucking get him. That fucking guy's gonna die. He's gonna fucking die.'"

Lourdes said one scenario called for the attack to appear to be a carjacking--which was precisely the M.O. that investigators allege Schwartz used in his plot with Bigger.

Lourdes became so concerned about Schwartz's scheming that she wanted a friend to warn Stidham that his life might be in danger, in hopes of heading off any actual attack.

When he wasn't obsessed with killing Stidham, Schwartz would plot other ways to destroy him, according to Lourdes. "He would ask questions about what would happen if they found child pornography in his office? You know, just to get him framed is what he wanted."

Lourdes added that she still loved Schwartz, but feared for her own safety. "I think he would kill me, because if he thinks that I'm the only person who can put him in prison, then he'll kill me. He loves me, but he'll have to kill me."

Squeeze Play

U.S. Sen. John McCain announced that Major League Baseball needed to do something about steroid use before Congress took action.

McCain's comments came after the San Francisco Chronicle reported on secret grand-jury testimony in the case of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, run by San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson. In his testimony, Bonds tried to bamboozle jurors with hornswaggle that he thought the steroids were flaxseed oil and an arthritis balm.

An survey showed that 85 percent of respondents thought Bonds was totally full of shit.

That's Entertainment!

It was a gala evening at the Loft Cinema as Tucson rolled out the red carpet for the world premiere of TW film critic James DiGiovanna's first film, A Forked World.

Co-directed by Carey Burtt, this feel-good holiday extravaganza explores an off-kilter relationship between a pair of lovable anti-social misfits and their exploration into spoon consciousness against a backdrop of vile sex and murder. We guarantee you'll hear more about this film on The O'Reilly Factor once it hits it big on the festival circuit next year!

Longtime DiGiovanna pal Greg Petix, who is best known as either one of Tucson's all-time great punk rockers or "that guy who used to serve me at Bentley's," said the film was "the most horrifying thing I've seen since the light entering my mother's womb."

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