Mayhem on Death Cheese bus

17th February 2006 at 00:00

A school bus driver has been charged with endangering children's lives by recreating "a combination of Star Wars, Lord of the Flies and Fight Club,"

aboard the daily ride to and from school, according to US authorities who arrested him earlier this month.

Michael Cianci, 38, called his bus,"Death Cheese Bus Number Five", told students to call him "Emperor Mike" and concocted a Star Wars-inspired pecking order based on students' performance in wrestling contests.

Rankings were doled out such as "Darth", "Princess Leia" and "Lord", to keep order among the 11 to 13-year old students travelling to Tottenville Intermediate School in Stane Island, New York every day.

Stronger students were designated as "enforcers", and allowed to terrorise smaller, younger ones, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Douglas added.

The "Death Cheese Laws," kept by Cianci were read aloud by one of the students every morning.

"As herby proclaimed by Emperor Mike of the Death Cheese bus, unit five, sector seven of the gamma system, these laws are laid down upon us to hold order and restore power," they read."The penalty for breaking the code is banishment. And for a ranking of master or above, the penalty is death or severe beating."

Emperor Mike's reign lasted from November 1, last year, until January 17, when a student who had his jacket shredded by one of Cianci's enforcers, told his parents who called the police.

"The bigger, more intimidating students instilled fear in the smaller, younger ones," said Douglas.

"This man was not just allowing this conduct, but instigating and promoting it."

Cianci, who is married with children, lives with his mother, and had a previously spotless record as a driver, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of "endangering the welfare of children".

If convicted, he faces up to a year in prison.

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