Man sues city for arresting him over parody Facebook page - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Man sues city for arresting him over parody Facebook page

Posted: Updated:

By DAKE KANG
Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) - A man acquitted of a felony for creating a fake Facebook page that parodied a suburban Cleveland police department is suing the city, saying they violated his right to free speech.

Anthony Novak filed the lawsuit Tuesday against the city of Parma and three officers.

He created a Facebook page in March 2016 that appeared similar to the page of Parma's police department, and he posted items suggesting police were performing free abortions for teenagers. The page also suggested it would be illegal to help the homeless for three months, and it had a recruitment post "strongly encouraging minorities to not apply."

Parma police announced an investigation into the page the day it was created. Novak, 28, took the page down less than 12 hours after putting it up. Officers sent Facebook a letter requesting that the Menlo Park, California-based company shut the page down, and they issued a subpoena to obtain Novak's identity.

Novak was charged with disrupting public services, a fourth-degree felony that carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison. A SWAT team raided his apartment and confiscated his laptops, cellphones, tablets and gaming consoles.

Novak and his attorneys called it a "sham investigation" that violated Novak's constitutional rights to free speech and protection from unreasonable seizure.

"This is one of the most extraordinary examples of government retaliation I have ever seen," said Subodh Chandra, Novak's attorney. "The idea that police officers would jail and prosecute someone for criticizing them is fundamentally abhorrent to who we are as Americans."

A police spokesman did not immediately respond to calls and emails Wednesday seeking comment.

During Novak's trial, officers said they were worried that protesters would show up at the police station because of the "socially contentious" postings. State prosecutors said the fake page disrupted public services by prompting 10 unnecessary calls to police dispatchers.

Novak's attorneys said that no protests took place, that there was no evidence police were worried about protests, and that the page was obvious satire protected by the constitution. They argued that the calls to police were brief and did not disrupt their operations. A jury acquitted Novak in August 2016.

The lawsuit seeks financial compensation, legal fees and an injunction against Parma police. It also asks for the return of Novak's electronic devices.

"Mr. Novak is experiencing ongoing chilling of his free speech," Chandra said. "They've offered no guarantee that they will not retaliate again."

John Travis, an attorney representing the city, said that the lawsuit "lacks merit" and that the officers and city of Parma will file motions to dismiss it.

It is the second lawsuit Novak has filed against Parma. The first one, filed by a separate law firm, differed by asking a judge to declare the law under which Novak was charged unconstitutional. It was dropped because of "deficiencies" in the complaint, according to court documents.

___

This story has been corrected to show Novak is 28, not 29.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • More From wfmj.comHot ClicksMore>>

  • Pope: Priestly abuse scandals driving Catholic faithful away

    Pope: Priestly abuse scandals driving Catholic faithful away

    Tuesday, September 25 2018 8:56 PM EDT2018-09-26 00:56:11 GMT
    (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis). President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid, right, welcomes Pope Francis as he arrives at the Kadriorg Presidential  Palace in Tallinn, Estonia, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. Pope Francis concludes his four-day tour of the Baltics vi...(AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis). President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid, right, welcomes Pope Francis as he arrives at the Kadriorg Presidential Palace in Tallinn, Estonia, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. Pope Francis concludes his four-day tour of the Baltics vi...
    Pope Francis is wrapping up his pilgrimage to the Baltics with a stop in Estonia, considered one of the least religious countries in the world.More >>
    Pope Francis is wrapping up his pilgrimage to the Baltics with a stop in Estonia, considered one of the least religious countries in the world.More >>
  • Michael Kors ups the glamour, buys Versace for $2 billion

    Michael Kors ups the glamour, buys Versace for $2 billion

    Tuesday, September 25 2018 8:53 PM EDT2018-09-26 00:53:26 GMT
    (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File). FILE- In this May 31, 2017, file photo the Michael Kors name adorns his store on Madison Avenue, in New York. Michael Kors is buying the Italian fashion house Gianni Versace in a deal worth more than $2 billion in a hard ...(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File). FILE- In this May 31, 2017, file photo the Michael Kors name adorns his store on Madison Avenue, in New York. Michael Kors is buying the Italian fashion house Gianni Versace in a deal worth more than $2 billion in a hard ...
    Seeking more glitter, Michael Kors is buying the Italian fashion house Gianni Versace in a deal worth more than $2 billion.More >>
    Seeking more glitter, Michael Kors is buying the Italian fashion house Gianni Versace in a deal worth more than $2 billion.More >>
  • Florence: an unwelcome visitor who refuses to leave

    Florence: an unwelcome visitor who refuses to leave

    Tuesday, September 25 2018 8:50 PM EDT2018-09-26 00:50:20 GMT
    (AP Photo/Jeffrey S. Collins). Shawn Lowrimore, Pastor Willie Lowrimore of The Fellowship With Jesus Ministries', son, wades into water near the church in Yauhannah, S.C., on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. The church is on the bank of the Waccamaw River which...(AP Photo/Jeffrey S. Collins). Shawn Lowrimore, Pastor Willie Lowrimore of The Fellowship With Jesus Ministries', son, wades into water near the church in Yauhannah, S.C., on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. The church is on the bank of the Waccamaw River which...
    Eleven days ago, Lee Gantt was at a Hurricane Florence party in her neighborhood on the waterfront in Georgetown, where the story is some houses haven't flooded from the Sampit River since they were built before...More >>
    Eleven days ago, Lee Gantt was at a Hurricane Florence party in her neighborhood on the waterfront in Georgetown, where the story is some houses haven't flooded from the Sampit River since they were built before the American Revolution.More >>
  • More NewsMore>>

  • Cosby in cuffs: TV star gets 3 to 10 years for sex assault

    Cosby in cuffs: TV star gets 3 to 10 years for sex assault

    Tuesday, September 25 2018 9:34 PM EDT2018-09-26 01:34:14 GMT
    (AP Photo/Matt Slocum). Bill Cosby departs after a sentencing hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Norristown, Pa. Cosby's chief accuser on Monday asked for "justice as the court sees fit" as the 81-year-old comedian ...(AP Photo/Matt Slocum). Bill Cosby departs after a sentencing hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Norristown, Pa. Cosby's chief accuser on Monday asked for "justice as the court sees fit" as the 81-year-old comedian ...
    Bill Cosby could be in prison by day's end as reckoning comes in 3-year sex assault case.More >>
    Bill Cosby could be in prison by day's end as reckoning comes in 3-year sex assault case.More >>
  • Upcoming job fair to be held in Mahoning Valley

    Upcoming job fair to be held in Mahoning Valley

    Tuesday, September 25 2018 9:10 PM EDT2018-09-26 01:10:07 GMT

    The Mahoning Valley will be hosting a job fair on Tuesday, October 2, 2018. The job fair will be held at Stambaugh Auditorium, located at 1000 Fifth Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio 44505. According to a press release, the job fair is open to all those seeking a job. Veterans can attend first, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. There will be a complimentary continental breakfast for the veterans in attendance. All other job seekers can attend the job fair from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The pre...

    More >>

    The Mahoning Valley will be hosting a job fair on Tuesday, October 2, 2018. The job fair will be held at Stambaugh Auditorium, located at 1000 Fifth Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio 44505. According to a press release, the job fair is open to all those seeking a job. Veterans can attend first, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. There will be a complimentary continental breakfast for the veterans in attendance. All other job seekers can attend the job fair from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The pre...

    More >>
  • Youngstown may benefit from trade mission to Thailand and Vietnam

    Youngstown may benefit from trade mission to Thailand and Vietnam

    Tuesday, September 25 2018 8:59 PM EDT2018-09-26 00:59:45 GMT
    Businesses have a unique opportunity to market their products and services in Thailand and Vietnam through a joint Ohio-Pennsylvania trade mission scheduled for March 2019. The trade mission to Thailand and Vietnam intends to successfully connect local companies with one-on-one business matchmaking in both countries.  Vietnam and Thailand are strategically important markets, having reached 5.4 billion dollars worth of trade in 2017 within the Ohio-Pennsylvania region. This is ...More >>
    Businesses have a unique opportunity to market their products and services in Thailand and Vietnam through a joint Ohio-Pennsylvania trade mission scheduled for March 2019. The trade mission to Thailand and Vietnam intends to successfully connect local companies with one-on-one business matchmaking in both countries.  Vietnam and Thailand are strategically important markets, having reached 5.4 billion dollars worth of trade in 2017 within the Ohio-Pennsylvania region. This is ...More >>
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms