Nasty fake Facebook pages not OK -- that's ID theft, judge says
Facebook pages are covered by New Jersey's identity-theft law, a judge has ruled in upholding charges against a woman who allegedly trashed her ex-boyfriend by creating a false Facebook account in his name and peppering it with unpleasantries.
After Wednesday's hearing in Morristown, N.J., the woman, Dana Thornton, was ordered to appear in court next month on ID theft charges stemming from her failed relationship with Michael Lasalandra. Her lawyer, Richard Roberts, had argued that, because the state's law does not specifically mention electronic communications or social media as a means for stealing someone's identity, the charges were invalid.
Roberts also argued that the charges failed to specify any injuries Lasalandra might have suffered, comparing it to someone simply having somebody else "saying something nasty about them," New Jersey's Star-Ledger newspaper reported.
Lasalandra and Thornton dated for only about three months in 2007, and it's unclear why they broke up. But one thing is clear: The person behind the page was angry enough to create the false page for Lasalandra and post updates aimed at disparaging the former boyfriend, a police detective in Parsippany.
The comments posted on the page, which no longer exists, portrayed Lasalandra as a cop who used drugs, hired prostitutes and had at least one sexually transmitted disease.
"I’m a sick piece of scum with a gun," read one comment. "I’m an undercover narcotics detective that gets high every day," read another.
That was enough to convince Judge David Ironson that injury had been done to Lasalandra's reputation. Even though the law does not specify the means by which such injury could occur, it is "clear and unambiguous," Ironson said in ordering Thornton to face ID theft charges.
Thornton has pleaded not guilty; if convicted, she faces 18 months in prison.
-- Tina Susman in New York
Photo: Dana Thornton, left, and her lawyer, Richard Roberts, in court as a judge ruled that Facebook pages are covered in ID theft laws. Credit: A.F. Menezes / Associated Press