NEW YORK -- Cookie Monster stands accused of shoving a 2-year-old.
Super Mario was charged with groping a woman.
And Elmo was booked for berating tourists with anti-Semitic slurs.
Times Square is crawling with entrepreneurs who dress up as pop-culture characters and try to make a few bucks posing for photos with visitors to the big city. But some of these characters are unlike anything you've seen on "Sesame Street'' or at Disney World.
They smoke, they use foul language, and they can be aggressive. At least three of them have been arrested in the past seven months.
"He was using words that were really bad,'' said Parmita Kurada of Stamford, Conn., who told police she got into a dispute this week with a man in a Cookie Monster costume who demanded $2 for posing with her 2-year-old son, Samay.
Kurada said that when she told the Cookie Monster that her husband needed to get cash, the shaggy blue creature pushed the boy and began calling her and the child obscene names.
"It was very scary for us, and I was crying. I didn't want to provoke him, so I said, 'We'll give you the money, but stop yelling!''' she said.
Osvaldo Quiroz-Lopez, 33, was charged with assault, child endangerment and aggressive begging. His lawyer did not immediately return a call for comment.
Asked by a WNBC-TV reporter why he no longer likes the character he sees on ``Sesame Street,'' little Samay said: ``Because Cookie Monster give me boo-boo.''
In the wake of the latest arrest, the bustling "Crossroads of the World'' was filled Tuesday with performers, including multiple versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Hello Kitty, a Transformer robot, Lady Liberty, Super Mario and Elmo.
Many of them are immigrants trying to eke out a living in what appear to be knockoff costumes.
As street performers protected by the First Amendment, they are free to roam Times Square and work for tips that average between $2 and $5 a photo as long as they don't block traffic, sell merchandise or demand payment, police say. That's a ticketable offence that can cost about $60.
"I don't think they should charge, but if they're unemployed or homeless, and this is the only way they can make money, it's OK,'' said Lauren Larcara of Oakland, N.J., who posed with a torch-carrying Statue of Liberty.
Laura Vanegas, a 45-year-old native of Ecuador, changes into her Liberty robes and applies copper-green face paint behind the Times Square military recruiting station. She said she picks up $30 to $50 on her eight-hour shift.
Steve Crass, dressed as a robot in fluorescent red and white plastic panels, said he has made as much as $280 during his six-hour stint in front of Toys R Us. He acknowledged: ``Some of the characters are a little too aggressive.''
Police spokesman Paul Browne said in an email that the department has had ``occasional issues with the 'faux paws' in Times Square, but they're nominal.''
The case against the Super Mario charged with groping is still pending. The Elmo accused of an anti-Semitic rant pleaded guilty in September to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to two days of community service.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called the Cookie Monster case ``just horrible'' and said lawmakers have been looking into how to regulate the characters. But she noted the issue is, well, fuzzy.
"It's very challenging legally because dressing up in a costume and walking around Times Square is, we believe, a First Amendment-protected activity,'' said Quinn, a candidate to be New York's next mayor.
Similar cases of misbehaviour by costumed performers have been reported in Hollywood.
The Walt Disney Co. did not respond to a request for comment, while the Sesame Workshop, the organization behind ``Sesame Street,'' said it has not authorized such uses of any its characters in any city and is looking into what actions it can take.
Anthony Elia, a New York lawyer in the intellectual-property field, said the entertainment groups probably have a case for trademark infringement, but ``the challenge probably would be getting a bunch of self-employed entrepreneurial individuals to stop.''
It's not the easiest way to make a living. On a day when temperatures pushed 80, they sweated in their outfits, coming out from under their oversized costume heads only to grab a hot dog or a smoke. When one posed for a photo, two or three others dashed over and joined in.
"Want to take a picture?'' a furry red Elmo asked a tourist. Moments later, he declined to speak to a reporter, saying through his costume, ``I no speak English.''
A Minnie Mouse offered a toddler in a stroller her hand and positioned herself at the handlebar. A Super Mario rushed over to join her.
"She said, 'Can you give us money?''' said the child's mother, Melanie Somogyi of Hamilton, Ontario. "And they grabbed the stroller!''
Earlier on HuffPost:
<a href="http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/crime/police-blotters/naked-man-declares-he-loves-cocaine-and-needs-more-1.106369" target="_hplink">Powell is accused</a> of running naked around a Florida apartment complex in February, 2012. A police report on Powell's arrest notes that, ""Statements from the defendant were not possible as he would only state he loved cocaine and needed more cocaine."
Darron Lynn Koenig
Koenig was accused in February, 2013 of throwing hammers at Texas construction workers and then baracading himself inside his residence when police arrived to question him, a<a href="http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Police-Friendswood-man-throws-hammers-at-street-4316601.php?plckFindCommentKey=CommentKey:9177985a-9837-4f23-8317-6b6b76aa73c0" target="_hplink">ccording to the Houston Chronicle.</a>
Garrett Michael Hoover
Hoover was arrested for <a href="http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/blog/2012/11/27/mugshot-of-the-day-7/index.html" target="_hplink">disorderly conduct</a> in South Carolina on November, 16, 2012. But, more importantly, he's "down to boink."
Sean Carl Payne
Payne is accused of being so drunk that a police officer had to hold his head up <a href="http://www.kmov.com/news/national/Police-Man-so-drunk-officers-forced-to-hold-head-to-take-mug-shot-172855311.html" target="_hplink">for his mugshot</a> after he was arrested in October, 2012 by Humble, Tex. cops.
Officers in Port Orange, Fla., say Terry Smith allegedly tried to rob a taxi and, in the process, left his wallet in the cab.
After crashing his Mustang into an Indianapolis home, William Kise's first question to the victims was reportedly, "You want some pizza?"
Michael Don Mitchell
Michael Don Mitchell, 38, is accused of stealing $87 in cash and change from a home in Lakeport, Tex., as well as a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli. Investigators identified him by the spaghetti sauce around his lips and mouth.
Police in Syracuse, N.Y., say Arthur Brundage robbed a bank and then came back to claim he was shortchanged on the loot.
Police in Aurora, Ill., say they discovered Daniel Selmon was growing marijuana when they spotted a large bonfire he allegedly lit to keep the plants warm.
Raymond Garcia, 45, was arrested after cops saw him fighting a street sign.
Phillip Beach is accused of trying to steal a boat by jumping in the water and pulling it as he swam. He was arrested for felony theft.
John Caruso is accused of squirting dish soap in his girlfriend's mouth in an attempt to stop her from cursing.
Sheriff's deputies responding to a burglary call say they found Cristian Villarreal-Castillo, a 20-year-old man, asleep on the kitchen floor of a home in Oregon.
Chad William Forber
Chad William Forber, 41, has been charged with possession of methamphetamine, resisting or obstructing a peace officer and possession of drug paraphernalia, stemming from an incident where he was found naked in public covered in nothing but Crisco.
Johnny Broestler, 46, is accused of smearing dirty underwear on another man's face after an argument about rent.
Joyce Coffey was arrested four times in 26 hours for blasting the AC/DC song "Highway to Hell" and other loud music from her home and for throwing a frying pan.
LaKeisha Nicole Brown
LaKeisha Nicole Brown, 24, of Longview, Tex., is accused of running an SUV over five people playing dominoes in a car port.
James David Gray
James David Gray was charged with his fifth DUI when police in Ocala, Fla., pulled him over for driving drunk on a lawnmower.
Terry Davis is accused of stealing a textbook called "Resolving Ethical Issues" from the University of Louisville's Health Sciences Center and then later trying to resell the book to a rival book store.
April Hill, 22, of Greenville, Indiana, was arrested on preliminary charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 or higher and a felony count of disturbing a train bed.
Patriotically-adorned Butkiewicz, 31, was arrested in the wee hours of the morning after Independence Day for <a href="http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2012/07/eric_butkiewicz_man_in_america.php" target="_hplink">allegedly dealing drugs</a> at Miami's posh Fontainebleau Hotel.
Rhonda Washington, 33, of Bryan, Tex., is accused of stabbing her husband because she didn't like his Facebook update. She maintains that she stabbed him with keys because she was mad he was doing PCP in the house.
Lindsay Medd Stevens was arrested by police in Knoxville, Tenn., for indecent exposure after his neighbor saw him cutting a tree down -- while completely in the buff. Knox County sheriff's deputy <a href="http://www.wate.com/story/19009880/knox-county-man-arrested-while-doing-yard-work-in-the-nude" target="_hplink">Scott Ritch told WATE-TV </a>that he saw Stevens standing completely nude in his yard cutting a tree, only to run inside his house when he saw the officer.
Jason Dornhoff was arrested after <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/jason-dornhoff-wrote-bomb-threat-job-application_n_1665954.html" target="_hplink">he wrote a bomb threat on the back of a job application,</a> police said. Cops searched his truck, but found no explosives.
Germot was accused of threatening his neighbor by saying, "When I get done taking a s--t, I'm gonna kick your f---ing a--!"
Ilyass Nabih and Thony Sengsoulya
Ilyass Nabih and Thony Sengsoulya, both of Nashua, New Hampshire, were arrested on drug charges in June 2012 after authorities spotted them allegedly trying to shoot up heroin while parked outside the Lawrence Police Station in Massachusetts.
<a href="http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Charge-Coffee-stand-masturbator-caught-again-3656307.php" target="_hplink">Mishkov is accused</a> of masturbating in front of a jail employee on his way to court to face a previous flashing charge.
In June, 2012, Smith was accused of driving under the influence and of spitting blood on law enforcement officers in Volusia County, Fla.
Raymond Carl Knudson
Raymond Carl Knudson pleaded guilty June 25 to sticking up a Bank of America branch in April, a crime he confessed within minutes of committing.
Kola J. McGrath
Kola J. McGrath was arrested for sneaking into her boyfriend's apartment complex by hiding in a small pink suitcase in Portland, Ore. The police searched the apartment of Curtis T. Lowe after being informed that a man had kidnapped a woman, put her in a suitcase, and taken her into the building. They found McGrath hiding in a closet.
Houaka Yang, 20, of Wisconsin, accidentally videotaped his confession and identified himself on tape with a camcorder he stole. Once the video camera was recovered, the victim uploaded <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wmY_gFcBsvw" target="_hplink">Yang's clip to YouTube.</a>
Luerissie Ashley Ross -- who is also a stripper called Pocahontas -- was arrested in February after she allegedly lured a man to his death and shot another in two robberies in Houston. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/15/stripper-pocahontas-shootings-luerissie-ross_n_1517518.html?ref=crime" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Clyde Hobbs was arrested in May, 2012 for allegedly calling 911 at least 17 times -- to talk dirty to operators. He'd been arrested several times in the past for the same crime. When cops arrived to collar him, Hobbs asked, "Are you here to arrest me again?" <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/clyde-hobbs-called-911-to-talk-sex_n_1502536.html?1336569858" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Patricia Krentcil was charged with child endangerment for allegedly allowing her 5-year-old to use a tanning booth, but the New Jersey mom says the child got a sunburn from playing outside. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/03/patricia-krentcil-tanning-tanorexic_n_1473813.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Eugene Carl Kotelman
Largo (Fla.) Police pulled over Kotelman allegedly for speeding and driving drunk on May 3. Cops checked the trunk and say they found a small monkey tucked inside. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/04/a-man-and-his-monkey-pull_0_n_1477674.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Latham, 22, allegedly got naked, stole a man's truck and then ran it into the front of a home at 50 mph. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/30/aaron-latham-nude-man-steals-truck-crashes-through-house-delaware_n_1464836.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Sheriff's deputies in Albuquerque, N.M. arrested Joseph Hannah for allegedly posing as a police officer. He's accused of pointing a gun at a group of teenage boys and allegedly urinating on a hat belonging to one of them. Two women told police that he pulled them over and flirted with them in separate incidents. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/26/joseph-hannah-impersonated-cop-urinated-hat_n_1455881.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Michael Baker was arrested after posting a Facebook photo of himself stealing gas from a police car in Jenkins, Ky. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/19/michael-baker-stole-gas-cop-car-facebook-photo-kentucky_n_1437057.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Ronaldo Silva allegedly broke out of a Brazilian prison by dressing in drag in April, 2012. He was caught less than an hour by a cop who noticed that he walked funny in heels. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/prison-escape-in-drag_n_1431558.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Ray Woods allegedly tied 89 bags of heroin and cocaine to his penis. When cops found him out, he reportedly urinated all over himself. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/12/89-bags-of-heroin-tied-to-penis_n_1420733.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Keith Fehr is accused of wearing a black dress and exposed himself to children at a park in Illinois. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/05/keith-fehr-little-black-dress-indecent-exposure_n_1406703.html" target="_hplink">Read more. </a>
Raymond Foley, an IT guy at an insurance company in West Des Moines, allegedly peed on four female co-workers' chairs over the course of five months. The company installed surveillance cameras in April, 2012 when the women complained, and reportedly caught Foley yellow handed. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/03/it-guy-peed-on-chairs_n_1399398.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Jesse James Thomas
Jesse James Thomas, arrested March 28 for public drunkenness, Thomas was wearing a sombrero when he jumped on an officer's parked patrol car screaming his name, according to an account in the <em>Sacramento Bee</em>. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/30/jesse-james-thomas-sombrero-jumps-on-cop-car_n_1392754.html" target="_hplink">Read more. </a>
William Bliss was arrested in March, 2012 after claiming four men made him carry a nuclear bomb -- while he was naked and drunk in the middle of an Iowa City street. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/20/forced-to-handle-nuclear-weapon_n_1366879.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Salem police say surveillance video shows Christina Lopez watched her 17-year-old daughter dance at Presley's Playhouse Cabaret, a strip club in Oregon. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/18/christina-lopez-watched-daughter-strip_n_1356975.html" target="_hplink">Read more. </a>
Accused teenage Bookie Briana Rios of Florida is accused of taking bets on NBA and NFL games. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/17/briana-rios-fla-teenager-bookie_n_1355315.html" target="_hplink">Read more. </a>
Matthew Ibarria, a fugitive from Florida wanted for allegedly attacking a relative, was arrested after jumping naked from a car in Georgia. This dashboard video from a Kingsland Police Department vehicle allegedly shows him running away. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/naked-man-matthew-ibarria-police-chase_n_1334638.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>
Jacob Lee Bovia
Jacob Lee Bovia is facing real indecent exposure charges for exposing his fake genitalia to a group of women on Maryland's Anne Arundel Community College campus. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/07/jacob-lee-bovia-arrested-exposing-fake-penis-maryland_n_1326558.html" target="_hplink">Read more. </a>
John Jardini, 26, of Pittsburgh allegedly robbed a woman for $60 -- and then asked her out on a date by cell phone. The "love" story gets worse. Read more <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/06/robber-called-victim-for-date_n_1324449.html?ref=weird-news&ir=Weird News" target="_hplink">here.</a>
Jason Engel, 21, of Pittsburgh, was arrested after he skipped a court hearing on charges that he stole $400 from a 2-year-old's piggy bank. Read more <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/jason-engel-steals-from-piggy-bank_n_1313144.html?ref=crime&ir=Crime" target="_hplink">here.</a>
Former Elvis impersonator Michael Conley blamed his diabetes for starting a standoff with Florida police, in which he threatened to use a weapon of mass destruction against them. He allegedly held up a vial of what he called Ricin -- a highly potent toxin -- as he barricaded himself in a motel in February, 2012. He was arrested about four hours later. Read more <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/29/wmd-suspect-diabetes_n_1310202.html" target="_hplink">here.</a>