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Ohio man may face jail for parodying police on Facebook page

Parma resident Anthony Novak, 27, may face a felony count of allegedly disrupting public services regarding the page investigators say he created in early March, Cleveland.com reports.

Police considered the page to contain information that was “derogatory” and “inflammatory” and appeared as if it was coming directly from department officials, said Lt. Kevin Riley, of the City of Parma Police Department.

When the parody page was created, it looked nearly identical to the official Parma Police profile, with the only difference being in the fake link’s URL. Unlike the department’s official page, it had a “The” before “City of Parma Police Department,” The New York Daily News reports.

Posts on the satire page suggested that helping the homeless would be illegal and offered free abortions to teens. A “Pedophile Reform event” offered sex offenders an opportunity to become an “honorary police officer of the Parma Police Department.”

The page was deleted when Parma police reached out to Facebook and to Novak, whom they arrested on Friday.

The department even felt it was important to issue a statement on its official Facebook page, Metro reports.

“The Parma Police Department would like to warn the public that a fake Parma Police Facebook page has been created,” it said. “This matter is currently being investigated by the Parma Police Department and Facebook. This is the Parma Police Department’s official Facebook page.”

Fourth-degree felony carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison, but probation is generally considered the more appropriate response, The Independent reports.

After the parody page was taken down, the fans weighed in on the department’s official page and some said that the police infringed on Novak’s right to free speech under the First Amendment, and also suggested police should find better ways to spend their time and money.

A sampling of the comments

Thomas Erich: “I guess it’s not important that heroin addicts are passing out at red lights after shooting up and the streets have potholes big enough to destroy monster truck tires, good job taking care of the real problem in Parma.

Steven Taylor: “If any punishment at all is given to this man for merely exercising his freedom of speech, it just shows another corrupt precinct and the justice system surrounding it stomping on people’s inalienable rights and the constitution that is supposed to protect them. Oh wait, I guess it’s already too late to save face.”

Carlo Harryman: “Do you even constitution?”

Zach Waltz: “I assume your department’s patron saint is George Orwell?”

Harry Robert: “Parma Police. If your idea was to quiet criticism of your corrupt department how did that work out for you? You are now the laughing stock of US police departments!”

Novak is scheduled to appear in court Monday March 28, and a grand jury will decide if he will face charges, The Independent reports.

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