2007_02_saveturkey.JPGThis story has it all: Wild turkeys, bottle rockets and a 59-year-old man with connections to the Columbo crime family. Franklin Picone was arrested yesterday for allegedly setting off bottle rockets to disturb wild turkeys that roost in his Dongan Hills neighborhood. But Picone claims it wasn't him, even though he does admit to hating the turkeys and calling up the city to complain about them - there are about 40-50 that wander around.

Picone's neighbor, Patricia McCann, called the police because she saw Picone firing rockets last Saturday morning. But Picone denied it and blamed McCann, telling the Staten Island Advance:

That woman's nuts. She's making accusations. She can't see. She didn't see me shooting anything at turkeys. ... We're talking about accusations that are unfounded. ... She sits by her window all day smoking cigarettes. I didn't do this to the turkeys.

McCann, though, says, "I've got eyeballs. I know who I see coming in and out the door." But the best part of the Advance article: Rob Balzarini, who lives a block away from Picone, remembered several turkeys sitting in a tree, making noise that "sounded like laughter" as cops arrested Picone on Monday. Taunting turkeys? No wonder residents may be resorting to bottle rockets.

Wild turkeys are a protected species in NYC, so you can't kill them, even if you think they'd be a good dinner. They have been spotted in Manhattan at Morningside Heights Park, Riverside Park, off Central Park West near the Museum of Natural History, Battery Park and on the Triborough Bridge. As for Picone's prior arrest history, he took a plea deal because his house was a safe house during an internal Columbo family war in the 1990s.

Photograph by mcmost1 on Flickr