Woman goes to jail over Facebook messages

BY ROBERT L. BAKER

Wyoming County Press Examiner

A 42-year-old Lake Winola woman has been charged with terroristic threats and harassment after allegedly posting threatening comments in late January 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, who found Moffitt guilty of harassment for sending Albert-Heise other kinds of electronic messages.

Albert-Heise is the divorce attorney for Sean Moffitt, husband of Hope Moffitt.

According to court documents, not long after the judge’s verdict on Jan. 25, Hope Moffitt began using her Facebook account to post messages about Albert-Heise.

A police criminal complaint says that one posting said: “This is a private message intended only for my friends to read” and noted her husband and Albert-Heise were “both lying cheating crooks.”

Another called Albert-Heise, “U fat pig pathological liar. Karma will get u. Everyone that’s harmed me has suffered a horrible tragedy… can’t wait to find out ur fate. Prob a heart attack from all the extra fat on u. U deserve the worst.”

And that, according to the complaint, was followed up by “I don’t care its better than murder my next best option.”

Moffitt was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Carl Smith last Thursday, Jan. 31, and, according to court records, spent a night in the county jail before being able to post $10,000 bail.

She faces three misdemeanor charges: terroristic threats with intent to terrorize another; retaliation against a witness, and harassment by communication.

A preliminary hearing in the matter has been set for Feb. 13, before Judge Smith.

Albert-Heise serves as the public defender for Wyoming County. In 2009, she ran in the Republican primary for Wyoming County district attorney but narrowly lost to incumbent George Skumanick.


  • FirefighterFlorida

    I grew up in Tunkhannock but haven’t lived there since 1987.  However, I keep getting the local newspaper and it never fails to entertain.  I can’t believe that judges actually rule cases as they do!  Like another person said in this blog, Moffitt really only stated some childish remarks that are not illegal in any way, shape or form.  The reaction by the court is absolutlely hilarious and scary at the same time.  This is playground retaliation at its finest.  Many thanks to the “Powers that Be” in Tunkhannock for the endless enjoyment in the endless mountains!!!!!!

  • onTV

    I think you are right it, it is out of context. I feel that more had to have been stated. I also think that posting anything about Heise after being found guilty of harassing her and using murder is my next best option is a threat. But we can disagree.

  • c0rrupti0n

    Taken out of context. Predicting she die of a heart attack and stating it is better than murder is not saying I will murder. How would it even be considered a viable threat if she is predicted to be dead already from a heart attack?

    She didn’t say, if Albert-Heise doesn’t die of a heart attack I’m going to murder her. Only people taking it out of context see it as that. Even if she did state that, I think it would still fall under free speech as the condition of her having a heart attack would first have to be met for her to continue with the murder plot and it’s ambiguous as to when or if she would ever have a heart attack.

  • onTV

    I think that is how I am reading it too. If this (?) Does not work, than murder is next option.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DMJKNWR2ZTMMTMES6LPPET5VEA Steve

    Read the article.  I copy and paste from the above for you.

    And that, according to the complaint, was followed up by “I don’t care its better than murder my next best option.”

    A threat.  From the article.  Murder is the next best option. 

    Hope this helps you understand.

  • c0rrupti0n

    Nope. Doesn’t fit the requirement of intent. Same reason why you can get away with saying “Obama, f*ck that n*gger, he will have a 50 cal in the head soon.” (Someone really said that, happened to own a 50 cal too, and got tossed on appeal). Murder as an option or prediction is not the same as saying “I will murder you.” Proven by real judges time and time again based on freedom of speech.

  • onTV

    It looks like it may meet the definition under the statute. If specific person (Heise) with third person knowledge (whomever she shared it with) and how better than murder was in context of posts. Only my opinion.

  • c0rrupti0n

    She won’t suffer many consequences. It’ll be tossed if the DA knows any better. There’s enough case law out there even for presidential threats and hate speech that if it didn’t get tossed in Wyoming County, it would at a higher court on appeal. 

    Check 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2706. They’d have to prove intent to terrorize for her to be charged with it. Regardless if it was a public post or not, from my understanding, the only way the alleged victim found out about it was through a third party and not directly. The message itself even said it wasn’t intended for the alleged victim, so good luck to them proving otherwise and that they actually felt terrorized and truly believed the karma gods were going to make her die of a heart attack.

  • GrowUp2

    Does not take much to be charged with terroristic threats, ask the little kid that has a bubble gun!! (Yes I know they made that right but still really??) I think it is time she grew up and moved on with her life. This is what happens when things dont go her way. Elaine you have no idea just how crazy she is!!! “Murder my next best option” seems like a threat to me, time to suffer the consequences for your actions. Does not matter whos page you post things on, you made it public once you posted! I have never heard of a divorce process go on as long as this on has, move on already!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DFPVPL75M5E6GGP4MXKGAKRYMU John Reeder

    YOU should stop posting things for a while.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DFPVPL75M5E6GGP4MXKGAKRYMU John Reeder

    (duplicate post deleted)

  • c0rrupti0n

    Stating you hope karma gets someone or that you hope they die of a heart attack, which they believe is better than murder or other options, is far different than saying I will murder you. It’s free speech. It’s perfectly legal to wish death upon the President of the United States and even hope and dream that someone murders him. Why would it be any different for a citizen? It may be crude or offensive to some, but it’s taken entirely out of context. The statement about karma alone should be enough to show there was no willful intent, and anyone who would take it as a serious threat is thin skinned. As much as the government and clowns like Shurtleff want to destroy it, the Constitution still exists for a reason. 

    To even be charged with terroristic threats like this woman was, you have to commit a crime of violence with intent to terrorize, cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly or public transportation, or cause serious public inconvenience or terror. Didn’t see any of that here. Don’t see how they’d prove intent to terrorize when it was posted on her own page. Would be different if she was sending directly to the person who’s claiming they were terrorized.

    Stupid, perhaps? Legal, yes.

  • onTV

    This whole thing seems like a mess. Found guilty, then post again, why? Because of the divorce? Seems like she posted almost 5 years, come on get it overwith and move on with your life.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DMJKNWR2ZTMMTMES6LPPET5VEA Steve

    Facts or no facts, I am thinking that you should have more constructive ways to use your time
    and spend your life than trashing people on facebook.   Alluding to murder “my next best option” as she stated is a threat.  Take this as an opportunity to reevaluate your life.  Learn and grow – and stop posting on facebook.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hope.moffitt Hope Moffitt

    Elaine learn the facts first.  

  • Elaine Remington

    I think Judge Shurtleff is right in finding Moffitt guilty.  Sound like terroristic threats to me.  I hope I don’t ever met her.  She sounds scarey.

  • Elaine Remington

    Staying away from that woman.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DFPVPL75M5E6GGP4MXKGAKRYMU John Reeder

    What happened to the comments that I and others posted about this article yesterday?  They’ve disappeared.  TNAE, please repost them.

    I will add that it’s sad to see the county’s public defender taking actions to have someone incarcerated, particularly here when the confinement is unwarranted.

  • c0rrupti0n

    What’s quoted in this article isn’t a threat at all. Wishing bad karma or ill will isn’t a threat and has been tossed numerous times in higher courts. No surprise that these small time “judges” and “lawyers” know absolutely nothing about freedom of speech or the Constitution. Guess their few hours in magistrate school didn’t teach them about America. 

    Nowhere in these quotes does the woman actually state she is going to or planning an act of violence, only that Albert-Heise deserves bad karma and death of a heart attack, which they believe is better than murder. All protected free speech just like how neo-nazis can legally wish the death and assassination of President Obama on Stormfront. ACLU will have another field day in T-Town, due to incompetent authoritative figures that act like school children and judge on their own morals instead of actual law.