Best 15 Minutes of Fame St. Louis 2000 - Howard Mechanic
Readers' Choice: Nelly
In February, Howard Mechanic, an anti-Vietnam War protester, was apprehended by federal authorities in Scottsdale, Ariz., after he revealed his identity to a young reporter. Mechanic, who had taken the alias of Gary Tredway, was wanted for his involvement in the burning of the Air Force ROTC building on the Washington University campus on May 5, 1970. The demonstration leading up to the destruction of the building was part of a series of campus disturbances nationwide that followed the killing of four Kent State University students by members of the Ohio National Guard. Mechanic was charged with interfering with firefighters' efforts to extinguish the fire by throwing a cherry bomb at them. Mechanic jumped bail after losing his appeal in 1972 and spent the next 28 years on the lam. After assuming the identity of Tredway, he became a model citizen and activist in Scottsdale before blowing his cover when he decided to run for City Council. After his capture, the story made headlines in Arizona. But attention to his case was soon overshadowed by the arrest of another Scottsdale resident: Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, former underboss of the Gotti crime family. Gravano, who was under the federal witness-protection program, was charged for allegedly bankrolling an Ecstasy drug ring.