A parody Twitter account using the name of the mayor of Peoria, Illinois has led, through an extremely strange series of events, to a federal civil rights lawsuit and felony drug charges. Police raided a house in April 2014 and seized multiple computers in a purported investigation of false impersonation of a public official, a misdemeanor under Illinois law. No charges were ever filed in connection with the Twitter account, but police claim to have found drugs and drug paraphernalia linked to another resident of the house who had no connection to the account. A judge denied the roommate's motion to suppress, ruling that the search warrant was supported by probable cause, but that police needed to explain why they were searching for drugs.
The Twitter account, @PeoriaMayor, was the result of boredom, according to its creator, Jon Daniel. The posts, which were generally described as "raunchy" and "profane," drew the attention of Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, who was not amused. Ardis complained to Twitter, which suspended the account and then notified the police. Police officers executed a search warrant in mid-April on the house where Daniel lived with several roommates. They seized every electronic device in the house connected to the internet and arrested the three people who were present at the time. They picked up two additional residents at their workplaces and took them to the station for questioning.
The prosecutor declined to bring charges under Illinois' false impersonation statute, which requires proof of impersonating a public official or employee "in furtherance of the commission of a felony" or "for the purpose of effectuating identity theft." 720 I.L.C.S. 5/17-2(b)(2.3), (2.7); see also Tex. Pen. Code § 37.11, 18 U.S.C. § 912. Daniel filed a lawsuit against the city and numerous officials in June, alleging violations of his First Amendment right to free speech and his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. Daniel v. City of Peoria, et al, No. 1:14-cv-01232, complaint (C.D. Ill., Jun. 11, 2014).