Philly DA to Zuckerberg: Drop “kill rats” page

Posted: February 05, 2013

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams is known as an avid user of the Facebook social media site.

But he has some complaints and on Monday Williams used his public pulpit to take that gripe right to the top: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Williams called on Zuckerberg to show he is a "good corporate citizen" by ordering Facebook to remove the page of a Philadelphia man Williams alleges used it to solicit the killing of a witness in a criminal case involving illegal firearm purchases.

So far, Facebook - if not Zuckerberg personally - has said no because Freddie Henriquez' page urging people to "kill rats" does not violate any of Facebook's terms of use.

"I asked to be District Attorney . . . Victims didn't ask to have their car stolen, didn't ask to be raped or shot," Williams told reporters.

Williams said sent a letter to Zuckerberg asking him to order Henriquez' page removed and his Facebook account deactivated: "I hope that he will be a good corporate citizen that will do all that he can to help us protect victims and witnesses."

In an e-mail, a Facebook spokesman did not directly address Williams'statements at the new conference.

"Facebook works with law enforcement to the extent required by law and where appropriate to ensure the safety of Facebook users," the statement reads. "We work very hard to be a good partner to law enforcement and any assertion to the contrary is false."

Williams said Assistant District Attorney Andrew B. Wellbrock made numerous requests to Facebook about the Henriquez Facebook page. Wellbrock received e-mails from Facebook's Law Enforcement Response Team on Jan. 8 and Jan. 15 saying the images did not violate Facebook policy.

Williams, however, said Henriquez' Facebook page violated two points of its "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities." Williams said item No. 6 reads, "You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user," and item No. 10 reads, "You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, or discriminatory."

Henriquez, 20, was arrested Dec. 17 and charged with retaliation against a witness, witness intimidation and terroristic threats. Court records show that he has been ordered to stand trial. On Friday he was freed after posting 10 percent of his $250,000 bail.

Late Monday, several objectionable Henriquez pages were removed though by whom is unclear. Williams' said he did not believe Facebook removed them and added that Henriquez himself might have done so after his release.

According to Wellbrock, a Holmesburg gun seller contacted authorities early last year to report what he considered suspicious purchases of several guns by a young woman.

In February 2012, Wellbrock said, the woman was arrested and charged in a conspiracy to make straw purchases of firearms - buying guns for convicted felons who are barred by law from owning guns.

The woman, who Williams and Wellbrock declined to identify, made a statement to police and agreed to testify against the drug dealers who wanted the guns.

Williams said a relative of the woman got a copy of her statement and allegedly gave it to Henriquez. On Nov. 9, Henriquez allegedly posted all eight pages of her statement on Facebook calling her a "rat."

Elsewhere on the page, Williams continued, Henriquez talked of his street gang, RRR [Real Recognized Real], and posted "kill rats."

Williams said the man who allegedly gave Henriquez the woman's statement, David Ruiz, 21, was arrested Jan. 11 on gun charges. He remains in custody in lieu of $150,000 bail pending a Feb. 26 preliminary hearing in Philadelphia Municipal Court.

Witness and victim intimidation has been a pervasive problem in the city's criminal justice system. Williams said that since he took office in January 2010, prosecutors have charged 2,041 people for threatening witnesses.

Williams himself has been the target of Facebook threats. Last September, Joshua Scott Albert, 26, an unemployed restaurant-worker-turned-Internet-blogger, was arrested and charged with calling for the murder of the district attorney and John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Albert and his lawyer have insisted the Facebook posts were "satire" but he was ordered to stand trial for solicitation of murder and related charges. He remains in prison in lieu of $300,000 bail.


Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, jslobodzian@phillynews.com, or @joeslobo on Twitter.

 

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