Crime Spree Stoped...Thank God the police have spent so much $$ and time on this. Woman faces jail for giving squirrels food June 26, 2002 BY NANCY A. YOUSSEF FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER Ronald Reagan used to feed them on the White House lawn. But in Eastpointe, a woman may face jail today for feeding squirrels at John F. Kennedy Park. Luminita Marinas, 62, will go before Eastpointe District Judge Martin Smith after city officials charged her with violating her probation two weeks ago by feeding the squirrels. In February, Smith gave Marinas one year's probation for littering and rat harborage; one of the conditions of her probation was that she would not feed the squirrels. But city officials say they caught her in the act after receiving complaints from residents. Officials also photographed her handiwork: 2-foot piles of peanuts and walnuts, surrounded by the tiny footprints of grateful rats, who scarf up what the squirrels leave behind. Marinas has been feeding squirrels for the last 10 years, raising the ire of neighbors, who despise the rodents and the jagged walnut shells left behind. "Everybody else is feeding them. Why am I on probation?" Marinas counters. "I shouldn't be punished for loving animals." In March, Marinas approached Eastpointe Mayor Frank Accavitti Jr. and told him at least three times that she would "kill herself" if she could not feed squirrels, according to a police report. She confirms the report, but says she isn't ready to die. City code enforcers said she has left bucket-size amounts of nuts in front of her home, her card shop on 9 Mile and at the park. "It's not that act, it's the excess that is causing the public problem," said Gary Young, director of the city's building safety. "You can see the pile of them as you drive by the park in your car." Accavitti said some residents walk through the park barefoot, and the nut shells "can be as sharp as glass." "We're not chasing after sweet little old ladies who feed the squirrels," he added. "There are lots of people who feed the squirrels in our community. They just do it in much smaller quantities." Marinas' decision to feed the squirrels has caused debate among City Council members about how many nuts a resident can feed the squirrels before it becomes a nuisance. City officials pointed to a case when a small dog was attacked by park squirrels and had to be euthanatized. The council decided in 1998 that if the feeding drew rats, someone could be charged with rat harborage, a misdemeanor carrying up to a $5,000 fine and 90 days in jail. Among Marinas' supporters are her attorney, Matt Savich, and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, whose representatives will attend her hearing today. "I fled a Communist country and I came to here for freedom and justice," said Marinas, who immigrated to the United States from Romania in 1971. "And I got this." During his time in Washington, Reagan would bring walnuts from Camp David and feed them to squirrels on the White House lawn. He did this so often that he began attracting a crowd of squirrels. His successor, George Bush, was less enthusiastic. He sent his dog, Millie, to address the overpopulation of squirrels Reagan's habit had created. Contact NANCY A. YOUSSEF at 586-469-8087.