The 14th-Annual Airball Awards

2011’s most memorable crazies, cretins, and criminals.

The 14th-Annual Airball Awards, Indianapolis Monthly, January 2012National Lampoon’s Urbana Vacation

Fearing they wouldn’t have the votes to block a Republican-proposed “Right to Work” bill last winter, House Democrats retreated to a budget hotel in Urbana in February, just across the Illinois border, leaving Republicans without the quorum necessary to advance the legislation. In a call with minority leader Pat Bauer, who was pictured working the phone at a tiny desk in his hotel room, House Speaker Brian Bosma reportedly told him to “get back here” (even though Bosma had led his own party’s walkout in 2004). When they finally returned in March, the Dems owed an average fine of more than $3,000. “We found that Illinois has excellent malls,” Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne, told the Associated Press. “And there’s a mini-mart right across the street.” Oh, and good news: Republicans plan to make the bill a top priority again this year.


And in a Hotel Room Closer to Home …

Pro-family legislator Phil Hinkle met a young male hustler named Kameryn Gibson at the JW Marriott in August. Gibson told The Indianapolis Star that Hinkle, the married Republican state representative for District 92—who voted in February to “defend” traditional marriage with a proposed ban on gay nuptials—had responded to his Craigslist ad seeking a “sugga daddy.” Hinkle later admitted to offering the man $80 for “a really good time.” No criminal charges were filed in the matter, and Hinkle refused to resign his seat, despite calls from party leaders to do so. He also denied being gay, telling the Star that he and the man only discussed “baseball and the view.”


… But Nothing Beats the Comfort of Your Ex’s House

In March, Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White, whose duties, according to his office’s website, include “oversight of state elections,” was indicted on charges of voter fraud, financial fraud, theft, and perjury after he allegedly listed his ex-wife’s Fishers address on voter-registration documents (and then cast a ballot at his ex’s polling place) in the 2010 primaries—even though he had moved to a condo across town. A member of the Fishers Town Council at the time, White continued to represent his old district for several months and drew a salary, payment that prosecutors contend he was no longer legally qualified to receive. Although he had already admitted to voting incorrectly, White, without a hint of irony, spoke out in favor of Indiana’s controversial Voter ID law, calling it a “proven and effective tool in protecting the integrity of elections.” In November, White didn’t show up to court (hanging out at the ex’s, no doubt) when a judge heard arguments about whether he should keep his job. At press time, a decision was pending.


Drunken “Sheen Goddess” Takes Pole Position

A Fort Wayne porn star, known to her family as Rachel Oberlin and to others (you know who you are) as Bree Olson, crashed her Lexus into a light post in February, proving there is more than one way to wrap yourself around a pole. According to the police report, Oberlin, a recent girlfriend of fellow reckless lunatic Charlie Sheen, smelled like alcohol. She pleaded guilty to good old-fashioned hometown drunk driving in April.



Lt. Dale True was assigned to notify his supervisor when a group of IMPD officers needed to pick up their bulletproof vests. He was not assigned to include a spreadsheet containing the height, weight, and chest sizes of those officers, 13 of whom were female. But he did anyway. Considering the more serious infractions by the boys in blue this year, True’s misstep was forgiven and forgotten fairly quickly. You might say he dodged a bullet.


Evil Twin Defrauds Government

When the supervisor of Janell Athalone-Afrika—a former employee of the Indiana Department of Education—noticed that $15,000 was missing from the state’s Childcare Development Fund, Athalone-Afrika had a remarkable explanation (cue the soap-opera music): She claimed her evil twin sister had stolen her identity, and the money to boot! The “good twin” was charged with one felony count of welfare fraud and seven counts of forgery, for a total of 27 falsified documents between 2002 and 2010. The evil twin remains at large.


Playing Twister

Natural disasters tend to bring the community together. Perfect strangers become best friends. Survivors console each other as they rebuild all they have lost. And then there’s Amanda Barrett of Austin, Indiana. In June, the 21-year-old, claiming to represent the Red Cross, solicited local businesses for cash donations to tornado victims. One Scott County business became suspicious, and when the Red Cross confirmed Barrett was not affiliated with them, she was taken into custody and charged with theft. The whole experience must seem like a whirlwind now.


A First-Rate Performance

Steven Libman, the first president of The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, quit abruptly in July. He cited a “private and personal matter.” Well, private investigators hired by the city “unprivatized” it. Their findings revealed that Libman, who is married, allegedly used company money to carry on an affair with his executive assistant—a drama worthy of the pricey new Tarkington Theatre stage.


That’s Just Super

In the last four years, Wayne Township schools have lost 107 staff positions. So parents were understandably confused this past January after learning of Superintendent Terry Thompson’s $1 million retirement package. While teacher attrition escalated, Thompson charged taxpayers $90,000 in travel—trips taken with the same school-board members who approved his retirement plan. Kids, today’s lesson is about stacking the board with your friends.


Decency Takes a Back Seat

Southern Indiana residents Thomas W. Lee and Laura Diprimo allegedly left their 1-year-old boy in the back seat of a car in June as they drank in a Louisville strip club, staying out of the 91-degree heat. A passerby noticed the baby and called police, leading to Lee and Diprimo’s arrest on a charge of child endangerment. At the arraignment, both parents denied the neglect. Next time, they’ll do the decent thing and take that baby inside the strip club.


Mark As Junk Mail

As tensions ran high during protests in Wisconsin against Governor Scott Walker’s at-tempts to limit the collective-bargaining power of employee unions, Indiana deputy prosecutor Carlos Lam wrote Walker a helpful e-mail. “If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you),” he suggested, “you could discredit the unions.” The note certainly discredited Lam—he resigned after the e-mail went public.



In September, two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr. was drag-racing while drunk in Albuquerque, New Mexico, leading to his arrest on—wait for it—Coors Boulevard. As it turns out,this was not Unser’s first lap on the DUI circuit. In 2007, he pleaded no contest to the crime in Nevada. And in 2009, he told The Indianapolis Star that he took his last drink that year. It must’ve been one hell of a shot to make him fail a field sobriety test in 2011.


Hot Water

This past summer, Myron Helms and Victoria Cross made their love public at the Roberts Park Family Aquatic Center, as some 25 witnesses reported them having sex in the pool. The free sex-ed demonstration went on for 30 minutes before a park manager became the interruptus to their coitus. In an unfortunate choice of words, park director Daryl Drew told Fox 59: “It’s not a family place when you’re coming, doing lewd acts like that.”

That’s One Way to “Shoe” a Customer out of the Strip Club

Normally, when a man gets hit in the face by a flying stripper-shoe, he tends to keep a low profile about it. But 34-year-old Jake Quagliaroli is suing PT’s Showclub, claiming he received lifelong dental injuries when a stripper’s shoe flew off and hit him in the mouth in February. Quagliaroli’s lawyer, Syed Ali Saeed, placed the blame directly on the club, stating that owners have an obligation to ensure that “those clothes are not flying off.”


Hoochie Mama

Lindsey Jones of Muncie must be a popular mom among the town’s teenage babysitters. She pays in liquor! In July, Jones allegedly gave a 15-year-old sitter alcohol in exchange for watching her three kids. The teen then invited five friends over for some profit-sharing, and a neighbor called police to report intoxicated juveniles. At her pre-trial hearing, Jones will face six counts of neglect of a dependent. On the plus side, the town’s teenagers are lining up to babysit.


Hot Hot Hotline

In May, the Indiana Secretary of State’s office sent out a press release promoting a Hoosier Voter Hotline. Unfortunately, instead of a 1-866 prefix, the number was released as 1-800—a path that led to a recorded ad “For fun, stimulating conversation anytime, anywhere.” Yes, that kind of stimulating conversation. A.J. Feeney-Ruiz, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, apologized for the error, noting the agency received no complaints.

Once, Twice, Three Times a Mayor

Many cities’ welcome signs include the name of the current mayor. Those signs are usually as modest and replaceable as the mayors themselves. But not in Lawrence, Indiana, where a new brick-and-limestone marker has the name of Mayor Paul Ricketts carved into the stone. Three times. Ricketts said he knew his name was going to be on there, but he didn’t know about the three-peat. It would be petty to nitpick. This isn’t about whose name is carved how many times into a $35,000 taxpayer-funded municipal sign … Oh wait, it is about that.


Truth In Advertising

When the Carmel-based Candy Dynamics playfully named one of its products “Toxic Waste Nuclear Sludge,” management didn’t realize how right they were. In January, the FDA discovered the candy had almost 2½ times the amount of lead allowed by law. “Our product’s tongue-in-cheek brand name in no way reflects the vigilant approach the company takes toward product integrity,” the company said in a statement. Clearly.


Fort Wayne Crushes Baals

When Fort Wayne invited citizens to choose a name for its new government building in February, the people overwhelmingly voted to name it after Harry Baals, a beloved mayor from the 1930s. But when the snickering died down, city officials opted instead to call it “Citizens Square.” Many proponents pointed out that there is already a street named after the popular official, and that a new government building would have made for a nice pair of Harry Baals memorials.


Illustrations by Hawk Krall and Chris Pyle.

This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue.