Friday, February 4, 2011

Sgroi photos improperly used in bizarre Facebook scheme

Massachusetts college professor arrested for threats to New Orleans police officer

In a felony complaint filed in a U.S. District Court in Louisiana on January 25th, Gary O’Bireck, a 57-year-old associate professor at Anna Maria College near Worcester, Massachusetts, is accused of threatening New Orleans police officer Brooke Duncan over a rape allegation reportedly lodged against Duncan in September 2007.

O'Birek, who lives in Elmira, N.Y., taught sociology and criminal justice at the college, was taken into custody Monday by Worcester police on a federal warrant. Federal records show he will be charged with stalking and threats via interstate communication. Officials for Anna Maria College said they were not aware of the allegations until Monday and a spokesperson said that Mr. O’Bireck was placed on administrative leave "pending the resolution of personal issues."

O'Bireck's LinkIn profile indicates he earned a Ph.D., Sociology, Deviance and Criminal Justice at York University 1988-2004.

The officer was accused of rape in September of 2007. Mr. O’Bireck is accused of posing as the alleged rape victim’s boyfriend to threaten the officer. The alleged victim, now 23, is a Worcester, Massachusetts native who briefly attended Loyola University in New Orleans.

Authorities tracked the e-mails and Facebook pages back to Mr. O’Bireck’s address in New York and searched his home on January 20th. Mr. O’Bireck has allegedly admitted to FBI agents that he sent the messages.

To transmit his threats to the 32-year-old Duncan, investigators allege that O’Bireck created a phony Facebook page under the name “Michael LovesMayhem," which has since been closed by the popular social networking site. Among the profile photos used on the page was a photo improperly lifted from Brahmas forward Mike Sgroi's own Facebook page. The image shows a bare-chested Sgroi, allegedly toting an AK-47 assault rifle with bayonet.

In several messages sent from the Facebook account, O’Bireck allegedly indicated that he was a fellow law enforcement officer and claimed to be affiliated with members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, who would “chop you into pieces. Think chainsaws,” according to the complaint.

In 10 games with the Brahmas this season, the 32-year-old Sgroi, who also competes as a mixed martial arts fighter, has registered three points (1 G, 3 A, +2) and 51 penalty minutes.

In an interview with The Smoking Gun website, Sgroi said that he was unaware that his photos had been hijacked and placed on the fake Facebook page central to the case against O’Bireck. Sgroi said that he does not know O’Bireck, adding that he believed that photos of him were lifted from his actual Facebook page, which boasts over 2000 friends.

“Facebook has become more trouble than it’s worth,” Sgroi said.

See original articles from The Smoking Gun here and here, and from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette here and here.

Photo Credit: Robert Keith

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