Man Gets Probation in Snake Mail Prank

DETROIT - A federal judge has sentenced a suburban Detroit man to six months probation after he placed a 6-foot boa constrictor inside his mailbox to scare his letter carrier.

Federal postal officials had charged James Rutherford Mell, of Farmington Hills, with obstructing the mail, a potential six-month felony. The mail carrier said she found Mell in his driveway laughing when the incident took place last July 7.

Mell, 32, had described the incident as "an incredibly stupid practical joke that wasn't funny," The Detroit News reported Friday. He also said the carrier was in no danger because the snake was not poisonous and didn't bite.

Mell was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani in Detroit.