Peoria, IL- A Twitter account that mocked Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis resulted in a police raid of a West Bluff district house and an arrest for marijuana possession.
In early March Ardis learned of a Twitter account, @Peoriamayor, that someone else had created. This account had been making controversial and vulgar tweets- supposedly pretending to be Ardis- although the tweets could be considered satire because of their comedic, albeit profane, tone. Twitter suspended the account because it had violated their policy that states parody accounts must be labeled clearly.
Ardis ordered police to track down the person behind it, citing the account as “false personation of a public official”, which is a class A misdemeanor in Illinois.
A warrant was obtained to seek the subscriber’s information from Twitter on March 14th. After Twitter handed over the information they were seeking, police were then able to obtain another warrant to identify the Comcast customer address where the tweets had been made.
A warrant to search the home of the Comcast customer was then given, and the search was conducted April 15th. Several police officers, up to seven, charged through the home and seized all Internet-enabled digital devices that were inside.
The raid didn’t result in any arrests in connection to the fake Twitter account. Instead, Jacob Elliott, 36, a resident of the home and the Comcast account holder for the address, ended up being arrested for possession of “30 to 500 grams of marijuana”.
Elliot wasn’t the perpetrator of the fake Twitter account; the man who had been behind it was his roommate, Jon Daniel. Daniel was questioned, but not arrested for impersonating Ardis on Twitter.
Elliot’s girlfriend, Michelle Pratt, was one of the residents brought down for questioning. “They just asked me about the Twitter account, if I knew anything about it,” she said. “They brought me in like I was a criminal.”
Mayor Ardis has not commented on the incident.