When 28-year-old Anthony Novak created a fake Facebook page for the Parma, Ohio, police department in 2016, he couldn’t have foreseen the wide-reaching consequences of his prank. He was arrested on felony charges for “disrupting a public service” before eventually being acquitted. Now, he’s turning the tables on the police and suing them for alleged federal civil rights violations.
Novak’s page, which changed the department’s slogan from “We Know Crime” to “We No Crime,” featured cheeky posts like one that promised the only requirement to join the department was passing a hearing test. Police thought the account posed an actual threat to public safety, but the court disagreed, and now Novak is suing the police for allegedly targeting him.
“No reasonable officer could have believed that the Parody Account’s author intended to disrupt any police services or that any police services were in fact disrupted,” the lawsuit reads. “Rather, Defendants targeted Mr. Novak’s lawful speech because they found it insulting. They decided to expose Mr. Novak’s identity, stop his speech, and punish him.”
Though Novak isn’t the first person to be arrested for impersonating a public figure or organization on Facebook, the fact that he was found not guilty is certainly interesting. He might even come out ahead after all the legal proceedings are settled. No matter what, it’s always a good idea to think twice before you post something potentially controversial (or illegal) and avoid this kind of headache altogether.