Punxsutawney Phil Handler Responds to Indictment, Takes Fall For Groundhog Day Mishap

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Bill Deeley, the President of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle and Punxsutawney Phil's chief handler, is taking the blame on this one.

The beloved Pennsylvania rodent rightly predicted six more weeks of winter last month, but Deeley says he incorrectly interpreted Phil's "groundhog-ese."

As a result, the Ohio prosecutor who light-heartedly indicted Punxsutawney Phil for his botched early spring prediction is now considering a pardon.

Phil, Bill

"I'm the guy that did it; I'll be the fall guy. It's not Phil's fault," Deeley said in Phil's defense.

Butler County, Oh., prosecutor Mike Gmoser told the AP he is now reconsidering filing charges in light of the new evidence and may drop the case.

"Frankly, he is a cute little rascal, a cute little thing," Gmoser said, of Phil, not Deeley, 63.

"And if somebody is willing to step up to the plate and take the rap, I'm willing to listen."

The Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, a small town about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, Pa., attracts worldwide attention each year.

On February 2, he predicted spring would come early this year. So much for that.

Weary of snow, wind and cold more than six weeks later, Gmoser announced issued a criminal in indictment of Phil for his 2013 Groundhog Day prediction.

"Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that spring would come early," Gmoser's indictment said.

Facetiously (we hope), he alleged that Phil deliberately mislead the people of Ohio and should be brought to justice, preferably by the death penalty.

Good thing Bill stepped up and got him off the hook.

Interestingly, this is two years in a row Phil has dropped the ball. After predicting six more weeks of winter last year, it was one of the warmest on record.

Pressure's on in 2014, buddy.

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