Friday, February 8, 2019

Salts Of The Earth: Former DA Sanctioned For Phony Facebook Page

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has approved a year and a day suspension of a former elected District Attorney as proposed by its Disciplinary Board.

The board reports contains extensive findings that the DA (who had been an Assistant in Clearfield County before her 2009 election in Centre County) engaged in a series of ex parte contacts with judges in criminal matters. 

In response to a recusal motion brought in light  of a close relationship with a particular judge, both the DA and judge falsely denied the allegations.

But the more interesting misconduct findings were that she had "created, disseminated and used a fictitious Facebook page." 

The story involved pending legislation to make the sale of bath salts illegal. The judges of Centre County had declared such sales a public nuisance and enjoined sales at three stores. 

In order to monitor these stores, Respondent created a phony Facebook page in the name of Britney Bella, who was given a false backstory. 

The page attracted "likes" and friend requests presumably from the pro-bath salts crowd. The page was friended by defendants who were being prosecuted by the DA's office.

The DA had the page adorned with images of "young female individuals to enhance the page's allure." 

She also emailed her staff telling them that she had "made a Facebook page that is false for us to befriend people and snoop."

The information led to a raid of the three stores.

Notably, the DA had not sought ethics advice on the Facebook idea.

The board found that the Facebook conduct violated a number of disciplinary rules .

The Centre Daily Times reported on the bar charges with an update here.  (Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2019/02/the-pennsylvania-supreme-court-has-approved-a-year-and-a-day-suspension-of-a-former-elected-district-attorney-as-proposed-by.html

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