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 NewsMore>>

  • Ohio governor candidate aims to unite GOP with ice cream

    Ohio governor candidate aims to unite GOP with ice cream

    Sunday, June 24 2018 3:31 PM EDT2018-06-24 19:31:23 GMT
    CEDARVILLE, Ohio (AP) - Republican gubernatorial nominee Mike DeWine's 2018 ice cream social is also intended as a GOP show of force ahead of what could be a highly competitive fall election.      The attorney general opened his historic homestead in rural southwestern Ohio to the usual hundreds of visitors Sunday. Besides homemade pies and locally-made ice cream, this year's event includes appearances by members of the party's statewide ticket.      Abse...More >>
    CEDARVILLE, Ohio (AP) - Republican gubernatorial nominee Mike DeWine's 2018 ice cream social is also intended as a GOP show of force ahead of what could be a highly competitive fall election.      The attorney general opened his historic homestead in rural southwestern Ohio to the usual hundreds of visitors Sunday. Besides homemade pies and locally-made ice cream, this year's event includes appearances by members of the party's statewide ticket.      Abse...More >>
  • Suspect in custody in connection with fatal hit-and-run of Mentor officer

    Suspect in custody in connection with fatal hit-and-run of Mentor officer

    Sunday, June 24 2018 2:55 PM EDT2018-06-24 18:55:04 GMT

    A Mentor Police officer was killed by a hit and run driver early Sunday morning. The Mercer Police Departments Facebook page reports that they are seeking assistance in the location of the suspect's vehicle. The officer, whose identity has not yet been released, was struck by the driver around 1:00 a.m., while he was assisting in a traffic stop on State Route 2 Eastbound, according to the information on the Departments Facebook. Reports state that he was taken to TriPoint Medical C...

    More >>

    A Mentor Police officer was killed by a hit and run driver early Sunday morning. The Mercer Police Departments Facebook page reports that they are seeking assistance in the location of the suspect's vehicle. The officer, whose identity has not yet been released, was struck by the driver around 1:00 a.m., while he was assisting in a traffic stop on State Route 2 Eastbound, according to the information on the Departments Facebook. Reports state that he was taken to TriPoint Medical C...

    More >>
  • Bill could expand diabetic's access to therapeutic shoes

    Bill could expand diabetic's access to therapeutic shoes

    Sunday, June 24 2018 2:09 PM EDT2018-06-24 18:09:20 GMT
    Medical-Doctor.jpgMedical-Doctor.jpg
    Medical-Doctor.jpgMedical-Doctor.jpg
    PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A pair of U.S. senators wants to use federal legislation to give diabetic people better access to therapeutic shoes.      Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown say their legislation would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients' need for the shoes. Diabetic patients sometimes use the shoes to prevent complications that can include foot ulcers and calluses.      Brow...More >>
    PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A pair of U.S. senators wants to use federal legislation to give diabetic people better access to therapeutic shoes.      Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown say their legislation would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients' need for the shoes. Diabetic patients sometimes use the shoes to prevent complications that can include foot ulcers and calluses.      Brow...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