FILE - This Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 file photo shows Groundhog Club Co-handler Ron Ploucha holding the weather predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, after the club said Phil did not see his shadow and there will be an early spring during the Groundhog Day ceremony in Punxsutawney, Pa. Bill Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle, told The Associated Press on Monday, March 25, 2013 that the animal rightly predicted six more weeks of winter last month, but he mistakenly announced an early spring because he failed to correctly interpret Phil's "groundhog-ese." (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
Updated: March 26, 2013 11:11AM
HAMILTON, Ohio — The groundhog is off the hook.
An Ohio prosecutor who light-heartedly filed a criminal indictment against the famous Pennsylvania groundhog who fraudulently “predicted” an early spring says he has dismissed the charge. Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser says Punxsutawney Phil has a defense with teeth in it since the animal’s handler is taking the blame.
The Groundhog Day celebration about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh attracts worldwide attention each year. That stretched well beyond Feb. 2 when Gmoser last week issued an indictment as winter-like weather continued across much of the nation, even as spring began.
Gmoser says the tongue-in-cheek indictment generated a lot of attention, but he has a lot of “really serious work” to do and wanted to end things on a positive note.