UPDATE: After satirically filing a criminal indictment against the weather-predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, for forecast fraud, Ohio prosecutor Mike Gmoser is now considering a full pardon. And instead, the acclaimed animal’s handler, Bill Deeley, is taking the blame—claiming that he failed to properly interpret Phil’s “groundhog-ese.” Read on to learn more about the tongue-in-cheek criminal charges. — Global Animal


(ANIMAL NEWS) As many remember back in February, famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow and predicted an early spring. However, with March 20th come and gone and weeks left of frigid temperatures, Ohio prosecutor Mike Gmoser is officially indicting Phil for a “misrepresentation of Spring.” Read on for more on the tongue-in-cheek indictment and Phil’s defense of the accusations. — Global Animal
Punxsutawney Phil Photo Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images
Punxsutawney Phil Photo Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images

Boston Globe, Amanda Lee Myers and Mark Scolforo

CINCINNATI — Famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil might want to go back into hibernation.

Authorities in still-frigid Ohio have issued an ‘‘indictment’’ of the furry rodent, who predicted an early spring when he didn’t see his shadow after emerging from his western Pennsylvania lair on Feb. 2.

‘‘Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that spring would come early,’’ Mike Gmoser, the prosecutor in southwestern Ohio’s Butler County, wrote in an official-looking indictment.

Gmoser wrote that Punxsutawney Phil is charged with misrepresentation of spring, which constitutes a felony ‘‘against the peace and dignity of the state of Ohio.’’

The penalty Phil faces, Gmoser says — tongue firmly in cheek — is death.

Punxsutawney Phil does not have a listed phone number.

Bill Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney club that organizes Groundhog Day, said Phil has a lawyer and would fight any extradition attempt by Ohio authorities.

Deeley defended his fur-bearing associate and said the death penalty was ‘‘very harsh’’ given the nature of the allegations.

‘‘We’ll have to plead our case one way or the other, but I think we can beat the rap,’’ Deeley said.

The vitriolic backlash on social media to Phil’s dead-wrong prognostication has not gone unnoticed in and around Gobbler’s Knob, Deeley said, and special security precautions were in place.

Winter has been dragging on in the Buckeye State and surrounding areas.

More Boston Globe: http://bostonglobe.com/news/nation/punxsutawney-phil-indicted-over-spring-forecast/