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Probation sought in MySpace hoax case

Monday, May 4, 2009 | 4:45 p.m. CDT

LOS ANGELES — Lori Drew, a Missouri mother involved in a MySpace hoax on a 13-year-old neighbor girl who committed suicide, should be given probation and fined $5,000 after being convicted of three misdemeanor counts, court documents state.

Drew's attorney Dean Steward said the punishment was outlined in a presentencing report filed Sunday by probation officials. The length of the recommended probation wasn't specified.

Drew could face up to three years in prison and a $300,000 fine after being convicted in November of three misdemeanor counts of accessing computers without authorization.

Steward has asked U.S. District Court Judge George Wu to throw out the conviction.

Prosecutors declined to comment but will likely file a response before Drew's scheduled sentencing May 18.

Prosecutors contended that Drew violated MySpace service rules by helping create a fictitious teen boy on the social networking site and sending flirtatious messages from him to Megan Meier, a neighbor in suburban St. Louis.

The fake boy then dumped Megan in a message saying the world would be better without her. She hanged herself a short time later.

Jurors found Drew was not guilty of the more serious felonies of intentionally causing emotional harm while accessing computers without authorization. The panel could not reach a unanimous verdict on a felony conspiracy charge.

Drew was not directly charged with causing Megan's death. The trial was held in Los Angeles because the servers of the social networking site are in the area.

Steward said in his filing that Drew can't pay the $5,000 fine because she no longer draws income from the coupon book business she had for nine years. Drew stopped working in November 2007 because of the case.

Steward added that Drew has been harassed by neighbors and has received threatening messages. In one instance, a brick was thrown through a window at the family house, Steward said.

"The harassment from neighbors in O'Fallon, Mo., was vicious and nonstop, until the Drews moved from the neighborhood some months back," Steward wrote.

Steward doesn't want Megan's mother, Tina Meier, or other family members or friends to speak at the sentencing hearing. MySpace, not Megan's family, is the victim in this case, he said.

A message left for Tina Meier was not immediately returned.

 


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