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Charges: Three area men harassed family with prank phone calls, impersonating police, fake FB accounts

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 4/27/20

Three area men face multiple charges after Middletown police say they threatened several borough residents through prank phone calls, impersonating police and creating fake Facebook accounts to …

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Charges: Three area men harassed family with prank phone calls, impersonating police, fake FB accounts

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Three area men face multiple charges after Middletown police say they threatened several borough residents through prank phone calls, impersonating police and creating fake Facebook accounts to harass people.

Police filed charges April 21 against Logan Ray Stoltzfus, 21, of Middletown, no specific address available. On April 23, police charged Dylan Ray Gipe, 20, of the 800 block of Vine Street in Middletown; and Antonio Colello, 21; of the first block of Greenfield Drive in Lower Swatara Township.

According to arrest documents, the investigation began Feb. 10 when police were contacted by a Middletown restaurant owner who said he had been receiving harassing phone calls since early November 2019.

Stoltzfus told police that the harassing and threatening phone calls to the restaurant owner began when Colello had been removed from the first string of the Middletown Area High School Blue Raiders’ varsity football team and replaced with the owner’s son, according to arrest records.

According to arrest records filed with District Judge David Judy, police found the three also conspired to create fake Facebook accounts to harass people, including a purported Crimewatch site that turned out to be bogus. Crimewatch is a national public safety website used by local departments including Middletown and Lower Swatara to distribute information about their activities.

The restaurant owner told police that on Nov. 9 an employee of the restaurant received a call where the caller said harassing things about the owner’s son.

The caller then said that he had the restaurant under surveillance, and that “these hollow tip bullets will still get you.” The employee’s wife, daughter, and son were all also in the restaurant at the time, police said.

The restaurant owner went outside, where the caller told him that he “had him in his scope,” according to police. The owner told police a car pulled up and drove away very fast. The owner told police he sent the employee and his family home out of concern for their safety.

The calls continued to escalate, the owner telling police that on Nov. 15 he received a call from someone threatening him to not start his car that night.

On another occasion, the caller identified himself to the business owner as a Middletown police officer, saying that a warrant had been issued for the owner’s arrest.

According to police another man besides the owner and the employee also began receiving harassing and threatening phone calls related to this same incident. The caller also claimed to be a Middletown police officer and said that police were looking for the man because he is African-American.

On Dec. 9, a friend of the restaurant owner identified two of the callers as Gipe and Colello. Police on Feb. 18 made contact with Colello and with Stoltzfus on Feb. 24.

Stoltzfus reportedly told police that Gipe and Colello had been making these types of harassing phone calls to different people for several years because “they think it’s funny,” according to the arrest papers.

Stoltzfus also told police that he and the others had created a Middletown Crimewatch page on Facebook that supposedly had been started by a retired police officer named Gregory Stevens.

Stevens is a fictitious character that the three suspects allegedly learned of through YouTube videos, according to Middletown Police Detective Wade Bloom, who investigated the case.

The Middletown Crimewatch that the three defendants allegedly created and posted on Facebook is not affiliated with the Middletown Police Department Crimewatch page.

However, the bogus Crimewatch page generated more than 1,000 followers by taking posts from the official Crimewatch page and reposting them on the Facebook version allegedly run by Stevens, who the suspects led people to believe lived in the Middletown area, according to police.

Stoltzfus also allegedly told police that Colello and Gipe had created multiple other fake Facebook accounts, with the intent of trying to agitate people and get them to argue with one another, according to police.

Police solidified the case against the three by obtaining warrants in February and in March to search cellphones, computers and other electronic devices that the suspects had used to carry out the alleged crimes.

The cellphones were analyzed by Swatara Township police; the seized laptop computers were taken to a Pennsylvania State Police lab in Harrisburg, police said.

Stoltzfus is charged with terroristic threats causing evacuation of a building, ethnic intimidation, terroristic threats, impersonating a public servant, and harassment by communication. He is being held on $50,000 unsecured bail, and his preliminary hearing before Judy is scheduled for May 6, according to online court documents.

Gipe is charged with terroristic threats causing evacuation of a building, impersonating a public servant, terroristic threats, and harassment by communication. He was ordered held on $10,000 bail unsecured and is scheduled for a June 24 preliminary hearing before Judy.

Colello is charged with terroristic threats causing evacuation of a building, intercepting communications, ethnic intimidation, impersonating a public servant, terroristic threats, and harassment by communication.

Colello is being held on $50,000 unsecured bail and is scheduled for a June 24 preliminary hearing before Judy.

All three men are also charged with criminal use of a communication facility, in that they used cellphones and other electronic devices in committing the alleged acts.

Terroristic threats causing evacuation of a building, intercepting communications, criminal use of a communication facility, and ethnic intimidation are felonies.