BY PAT FARNELLI
Wyoming County Press Examiner
Bail was revoked and set for an additional $200,000, and a mental health evaluation ordered on Wednesday for a 42-year-old Lake Winola woman charged with terroristic threats and harassment after allegedly posting threatening comments about an area attorney on a social media site.
Hope Elaine Moffitt of Chestnut Street was arrested Jan. 31, by Tunkhannock Borough police after Wyoming County attorney Deborah Albert-Heise said she received information that derogatory remarks directed at her were being posted on Moffitt’s Facebook account.
On Jan. 25, the two women had appeared before Wyoming County President Judge Russell Shurtleff, regarding harassment charges while Albert-Heise was the divorce attorney for Sean Moffitt, husband of Hope Moffitt.
According to court documents,starting around Jan. 25, Hope Moffitt began using her Facebook account to post messages about Albert-Heise.
Albert-Heise said Wednesday that Moffitt actually has been making derogatory comments for five years, “but it didn’t bother me so much, before she started making threats of violence toward myself and my family.”
Attorney Chad Salsman, who represented Moffitt, asked if Albert-Heise was blocked from viewing Moffitt’s Facebook posts. She replied that she is not a Facebook friend of Moffitt’s, but that she is able to see the posts.
Salsman also asked if Albert-Heise was aware that Moffitt “is angry at a friend who got her fired from a job?”
Salsman noted that Moffitt refers to her husband in similar derogatory terms.
Since the hearing, Moffitt has continued to post derogatory and threatening comments and pictures on her Facebook account, said Attorney Paul Litwin III, who filled in for district attorney at Moffitt’s bail hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
Entered into evidence were photos of Facebook posts allegedly made by Moffitt, which had been photographed by Albert-Heise using her cell phone.
Numerous derogatory posts were made over the last weekend. One said, Rotten eCARDS picture “I wanna be there when karma ass f—s you with a cactus.”
Another, posted Sunday, Feb. 10, had the comment, “This is how I feel every moment of every day!,” over a photo showing a girl with a gun in her mouth and what appears to be a blood spatter behind her head on a pillow.
Another, posted Tuesday, says, “This is how I feel every minute of every day. Bring it on Fatty,” and shows a package of Wendy’s ketchup with contents squirted out along with what appears to be a spoof of someone shooting one’s self in the head.
Albert-Heise read the profanity laced, insult-heavy posts aloud in a matter of fact voice on the witness stand. She said that the first item in the packet of photo printouts was of a post made Feb. 2, two days after Moffitt’s arrest, quoting a Confucius saying: “Before you are arrested, dig two graves.”
Litwin asked Albert-Heise, “You are not only a witness, you are the victim in these criminal charges?” and she responded, “Yes.”
When asked how she knows the messages are intended for her, she said that they are directed at her, and that Moffitt will post that she knows Albert-Heise is looking at her Facebook feed.
She always refers to me as “fat ass lying pig lawyer,” Albert-Heise said.
A Feb. 3 post read, “UR ruining good things in my life so I am doing to decimate u. Lying fat pig U do harm to me, sooooo now u pay the price.”
Asked about how she has been impacted, Albert-Heise testified, “I have been forced to take steps to defend myself and my family. I have had to apply for a permit to carry a weapon, and to purchase a weapon. I have to look carefully wherever I go….I have to take safety measures for myself, my husband and my children, and my staff has had to take precautions. I have had to withdraw myself from representing Sean Moffitt in this divorce case.”
Salsman said, “In reviewing bail conditions, it does say that she cannot use electronic devices to make comments in regards to Ms. Albert-Heise or the charges….she is indigent, she was unrepresented, and did not have anyone to explain to her what she can and cannot do. I have advised her to stay off Facebook, and I have told her to just stop posting on Facebook. She’s got some understanding of what she’s facing, now.”
Litwin asked the judge to revoke bail and to set an additional $150,000 regular bail. He also asked the judge to require a mental health evaluation and treatment as a condition of bail. He also asked that it be made a condition that she not possess a firearm or make comments about the victim or the charges.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Smith addressed the defendant and said, “I am really worried about you and what you are going to do to yourself. I am going to increase bail by $200,000.”
Moffitt waived her right to a preliminary hearing. An arraignment in the Wyoming County Court of Common Pleas was scheduled for Apr. 5.
Salsman advised Moffitt that he would make a motion Thursday for bail reduction, and file a supervised bail request.
Tunkhannock Borough Police Chief William Olszewski handcuffed Moffitt, and she was taken to the Wyoming County Correctional Facility.