Man sues police over fake Facebook page

From The Columbus Dispatch

A man acquitted of a felony for creating a fake Facebook page that parodied the Parma police department sued the city and three officers Tuesday, saying they violated his right to free speech.

Anthony Novak 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 subpoenaed Facebook for Novak’s identity.

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

“This is one of the most extraordinary examples of government retaliation I have ever seen,” said Subodh Chandra, Novak’s attorney.

During his trial, officers said they were worried that protesters would show up at the police station. A jury acquitted Novak in August 2016.

The lawsuit seeks financial compensation and asks for the return of Novak’s electronic devices.