New Times ran a story in late June by "Joseph Rossi" on Reinalda de Souza, an Arizona faith healer who claimed to have killed Michael Jackson with a curse she learned in Brazil. Among the many exaggerated details in the piece is that de Souza had slit the throat of a 4½-month-old Rottweiler named Cerberus, drank his blood and left his lifeless carcass as part of a black magic ritual. This, New Times reports, led several people to call the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office to demand an investigation into the purported animal cruelty. Stephen Lemons, who actually wrote the piece, says that while this hoax didn't spark as much intense reaction as some of his earlier handiwork, "it was certainly a bunch of fun to write." He adds: "For the record, no animals were harmed in the making of the spoof."

Continue ReadingLatest Phoenix New Times Spoof Sparks Sheriff Investigation

As we reported earlier this month, the alt-weekly's story on Anna Nicole Smith's "secret Native American love child" was indeed fake. Stephen Lemons, who wrote the story, tallies up the carnage this week, reporting that CBS News, Gawker and the New Zealand Herald were among the outlets that fell for it. And while the paper was offered $500,000 for photos of the non-existent baby boy at one point, Lemons notes that many of the paper's regular readers knew it was a hoax all along.

Continue ReadingPhoenix New Times Reveals the Anatomy of a Hoax

Village Voice Media's headquarter's paper has been threatened with a felony indictment unless it removes the home address of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio from its Web site and agrees to never publish the address of a law enforcement officer online again, the paper's Stephen Lemons reports. The threat comes more than two years after the paper first published Arpaio's address in an article intended "to show the absurdity of [the sheriff's] home address' being readily available to any idiot with access to a computer when [he] used the very same law to justify hiding information on commercial real estate he owns." The alt-weekly has long been a critic of Arpaio, who it accuses of corruption and having a "vindictive streak." The paper's cover this week depicts an envelope containing a Christmas card addressed to the Sheriff at his home.

Continue ReadingPhoenix New Times Faces Criminal Charges in Clash with Sheriff

Stephen Lemons reports that he and photographer Lilia Menconi were denied entry yesterday when the press was briefed on an indictment against Maricopa County's schools superintendent. Subordinates of County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the paper was banned because it was "in litigation" with the Sheriff's office; according to Lemons, that's a reference to a New Times lawsuit seeking access to public records. "Take good notes!" Lemons yelled at fourth-estate colleagues as he was escorted from the building. "We’re from the New Times and we’re being kicked out."

Continue ReadingPhoenix New Times Barred From Press Conference