Weather groundhog Phil ‘indicted,’ accused of lying as winter continues

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(CNN) — Punxsutawney Phil lied.

That’s what a prosecutor in Ohio says. He has filed a criminal “indictment” against the famed groundhog, who, year for year on February 2, emerges from his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob to predict whether spring will come early or winter will linger.

If he sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of chill. If not, short sleeves are days away.

This year, Phil got it wrong, and it’s not the first time.

On the first day of spring this past Wednesday, the Northeast got pelted with more than a foot of snow. It’s still cold two days later, and more chilly weather is in the forecast.

Michael T. Gmoser is sick of it, and he wants someone to pay.

“I woke up this morning and the wind was blowing, the snow was flying, the temperatures were falling, and I said ‘Punxsutawney, you let us down,’ ” the prosecutor told CNN affiliate WXIX.

The homepage of the Butler County, Ohio, prosecutor’s office, which Gmoser heads, prominently features alerts against scammers.

Gmoser is convinced that Phil is one and that he intentionally misled the nation. Now, trouble with the law is a brewing for the famous rodent from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Not really.

It’s all in good fun, of course, and Phil’s handlers are getting in on the joke.

But they are not “ratting” him out.

“If you remember two weeks ago on a Sunday, it was probably 60, 65 degrees,” handler John Griffiths told WXIX in Phil’s defense. “So, I mean, that basically counts as an early spring.”

After snow storms and blizzards for weeks from Arizona to the Dakotas and into the Midwest and New England, not many Americans may buy it.

But Phil may not be at fault.

Some may have thought in the past that his predictions were a vast conspiracy. After all, he is sponsored by two clubs, a handful of corporations and two banks.

On Phil’s website,, his handlers dispute the theory.

“No, Punxsutawney Phil’s forecasts are not made in advance by the Inner Circle,” they write.

The off prediction could have been a mistranslation.

Phil “speaks to the Groundhog Club President in Groundhogese,” according to the website. “His proclamation is then translated for the world.” What if the president can’t hear correctly over the crowd? Is it then still really Phil’s fault?

Gmoser is sticking by his guns. “Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause people to believe that Spring would come early,” the indictment reads.

He recommends the death penalty.

“He’s already serving a life sentence behind bars, as you know,” Gmoser told WXIX.

Phil has been making his predictions since 1887 and will probably continue.

Extraditing him from Pennsylvania to Ohio to stand trial is unlikely, since transporting wild animals across state lines can be illegal.

People may be angry with Phil about his prediction as winter’s chill dawdles.

But lighten up. He’s just a groundhog.


  • Sherie Brown

    YOU'RE A FLAKE groundhogs don't talk so how do you know he's really reacting on his shadow NERDS!!

  • Joe

    Phil has been doing this since 1887, maybe, just maybe…his eye sight is going and he thought there was no shadow and spring would come early….but it really could have been that he was yanked from his warm home and put before a large crowd..had it been me…I would have told you what you wanted to hear just to get back to my warm bed….I got your back Phil!

  • Seng918

    I agree that Phil is getting old, probably losing some sharpness. Maybe it's time that Phl became part of the food chain.

  • richard pettit

    i say let the weather man forecast spring get rid of the groundhog. they both aren't reliable anyway…

  • Bev

    Glad to read that this was just a joke, as I was thinking , "You have to be kidding". 🙂 The ground hog telling the beginning of spring is for fun and of course he can not predict the weather, but I wonder how many people are gullible enough to believe it?

  • Phyllis

    Yes, the smiles and laughs are just what we need to curb those late winter blues! Thanks to the groundhog and Prosecutor for brightening our day.

  • jan

    No he's not at fault because he is taken from his home now if he comes out on his own then I can see it would be his fault, oh wait who started this belief cause you see phil can't talk or he might say hey you guys are nuts lol……_

  • Rita

    Get over it, we have a groundhog on our property, and he/she has been out for two weeks now. What is my explanation? Everyone knows the climate is changing. Animals get confused by this! Thr Robins are also back!! Get over it man!! You can't sue an animal!!

  • Rick

    hmmm…. Im kidding here….. but, how exactly would they serve the summons to appear in court to face charges? If phil can't afford a lawyer, can he request a public defender? do you read him his miranda rights even though he is a groundhog?

  • Douglas

    So what about all those "Weather People" who gets their forecast wrong??? Will they be Indicted and Prosecuted also, for giving false and inaccurate information???? Only seems fair to me!!!!!

  • derek

    Hey everyone news flash for you!! We live in Indiana!!! When was the last time anyone actually predicted the weather right? Its something to look forward to so quit complaining…… You will be just as mad when it gets hot and you can't stand the heat!! Wow some people………………………..

  • Jorge

    Don't sewed the groundhog it is not it's problem it is the handlers problem so he should not be sewed sew the handler

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