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Ohio Man Faces Potential Felony Charges For Facebook Page Mimicking Local Police Department


Police are saying the page  went too far and exceeded the creator's right to free speech.

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An Ohio man was arrested Friday after a parody Facebook page he allegedly created earlier this month caught the attention of local authorities.

Anthony Novak, 27, now faces potential criminal charges for the spoof account he made to mock the Parma Police Department's official page.

The Parma Police Department would like to warn the public that a fake Parma Police Facebook page has been created. This...

Posted by City of Parma Police Department on Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The page, which investigators say Novak made March 2, featured fake press releases, made-up crimes and jokes deemed "derogatory" and "inflammatory" by the department, Lt. Kevin Riley told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The parody account, which has been deactivated, was convincing enough to warrant potential felony charges for disrupting public services. Content aside, the only difference between the PPD’s real page and Novak’s was in the fake page’s URL, which added a “The” before “City Of Parma Police Department,” according to the Plain Dealer.

Some of the satirical posts included a message that suggested it would be illegal to help the homeless, a fake advertisement for free abortions to teens and a “Pedophile Reform event” where sex offenders were offered the temporary opportunity to be an “honorary police officer of the Parma Police Department.”

The New York Daily News cited a post that falsely explained how the PPD recruiting process works:

The test will consist of a 15 question multiple choice definition test followed by a hearing test. Should you pass you will be accepted as an officer of the Parma Police Department.

Novak’s attorney, David Brown, suggested Friday that the case might raise some First Amendment issues, but he told the Plain Dealer, more details will have to be gathered in order for him to determine how he will proceed with his defense.

"It's an unusual case," Brown said.

Riley suggested that Novak’s page “crossed the line” and exceeded his right to free speech.

"In this particular case, we believe the material that Novak posted on the fake account crossed the line from satire to an actual risk to public safety," he said. "We presented the facts of this case and the investigation to our law department and they agreed that Novak's actions were criminal in nature."

A grand jury is scheduled to review the case and determine what charges, if any, Novak will face.

Novak is expected to appear today in Parma Municipal Court.

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