LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. – An arraignment has been scheduled for April for a former Limestone County Commission Chairman facing two misdemeanor charges.
Mark Yarbrough was arrested Monday night and paid at $1,250 bond.
He was arrested on charges of criminal impersonation and harassing communications. This all appears to stem from online activity many people would call “trolling.”
Limestone County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Stephen Young says the arrest stems from a series of Facebook posts and a Facebook page using the name Randall Carson. Allegedly, Yarbrough made a series of posts towards a victim, who then filed a report for harassment and got warrants against Yarbrough.
Deborah King says she and the person she knew as Randall Carson arranged to meet at the Sheriff’s Office. But before the meeting was supposed to take place, she says the Carson page commented that she had missed the meeting, posted a picture from the sheriff’s office parking lot and a meme from the sitcom Sanford and Son. At that point, King says she felt threatened.
It appears the Sheriff’s Office spent a lot of time investigating this. From measuring shadows in the Sheriff’s office parking lot to determine what time Yarbrough was there – to going to a local car dealership to identify the rims on his truck.
The Sheriff’s Office did charge Yarbrough with criminal impersonation. A spokesperson from LCSO says that charge stems from the fact that ‘Randall Carson’ indicated on his Facebook page he worked for the Social Security Administration.
“If you’re going to prosecute people for lying about their job status on Facebook that’s going to be pretty voluminous prosecution there,” said Ron Smith, defense attorney.
WHNT sat down with defense attorney, Ron Smith. As for the question, when does trolling become illegal, Smith says it’s a gray area.
“These are all new statutes, or fairly new, as especially they’ve been applied to the internet…So I think it’s going to go to whether somebody had criminal intent and whether the government has a policy purpose in prohibiting that activity,” Smith said.
Again, both charges Yarbrough is facing are misdemeanors, which together could result in a $3,500 fine and 9 months in jail.