The 20 Most Secretly Brilliant Stupid Criminals

#9. Johnny Cash Wiped Out an Entire Species (Almost)

Johnny Cash dabbled in a lot of things in his life. He was a symbol of anti-authority and did boatloads of drugs, giving Joaquin Phoenix an excuse to act like a total fucking nut. Most people have forgotten about the time that Cash dabbled in making a species of bird go extinct.

Cash was driving his truck through Los Padres National Forest in central California, when a wheel bearing in his truck overheated and set the whole thing ablaze. Cash did what any responsible motorist would do, and abandoned his burning vehicle ... to go fishing.

The fire spread, and almost an entire square mile of forest burned. More importantly, the fire killed 49 California condors, which at the time, was roughly half of the entire species.


Jesus. Good riddance, right? Holy shit, what an ugly bastard of a bird.

Cash's defense was that it was all an accident -- he didn't want his truck to burst into flame, after all. The courts felt differently, both because he didn't seem to think the whole "burning vehicle in the middle of the woods" thing deserved his attention at the time and the fact he remained unapologetic, going so far as to say, "I don't give a damn about your yellow buzzards."

The Secretly Brilliant:

Of all the strategies employed on this list, "being Johnny Cash" may not be the cleverest, but we'd imagine it's among the most effective.

The federal government sued Cash and eventually settled for $82,000 dollars, which is minuscule in comparison to the nearly $30 million that the federal government has spent trying to conserve condors.

When asked why they didn't take him for more money, they presumably pointed out that, "It's f#@%!ng Johnny Cash. C'mon, the guy's a legend!"

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