Category Archives: identity theft

Can impersonating someone and posting inflammatory comments about them on a fake Facebook page result in prosecution?

In November 2011, a Superior Court Judge sitting in Morristown, New Jersey refused to dismiss an indictment charging Dana Thornton with identity theft for impersonating her ex-boyfriend on a fake Facebook page and posting inflammatory comments about him. After an investigation by law enforcement, Ms. Thornton was indicted in August 2010 on one count of fourth-degree identity theft. She pleaded not guilty but if convicted she faces up to 18 months in prison.

The investigation originated when the Morristown prosecutor’s office was informed about a Facebook page that was set up without Lasalandra’s (Dana’s ex-boyfriend) permission. The prosecutor’s office then conducted an investigation and found that the Facebook page contained photos and personal information about Lasalandra. The page also contained comments made by Lasalandra in which he allegedly admitted using drugs, hiring prostitutes and having herpes. According to the prosecutor’s brief the posts included comments like “I’m a sick piece of scum with a gun” and “I’m an undercover narcotics detective that gets high every day.”

Ms. Thornton’s attorney defended by asserting that the indictment should be dismissed because identity theft does not include “electronic communications.” However, the Court disagreed and held that the law was “clear and unambiguous.” In other words, although the law did not specify the “means” by which the injury from identity theft might occur, that would not undermine the fact that a crime was committed.

Accordingly, the Court ordered that the lawsuit proceed.  It should be noted that the New Jersey legislature is reviewing an amendment that would specifically add electronic communications to the identity theft law. The proposed amendment can be viewed at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/A2500/2105_S1.PDF

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