“F*ck Cops” Facebook Post Leads DA to Ask Judge to Reconsider Probation Terms
Raymond Zachary Paquette of Westhampton, MA posted “F— cops” on his Facebook timeline. I know, you’re thinking, “So what, people post that all the time.” Thing is, on Thursday, March 12th, 2015 Raymond was sentenced by a Judge to a suspended 2½-year term in the Hampshire County House of Correction following his conviction on two counts of misleading police. How did Raymond mislead police? By saying twice that he didn’t witness a fight that took place in his kitchen. Raymond was also placed on probation for two years and ordered him to speak at schools, avoid drugs and alcohol, stay away from the victim of the bottle attack, undergo a mental health evaluation, and comply with any recommended treatment.
This all seems pretty standard but before we get into why Raymond posted, “Fuck cops” on his Facebook timeline, the readers should take the time to note that it’s better to NOT answer any police questions than say anything at all. Had Raymond simply said, “I don’t not talk to police” during the investigation into the fight instead of, “I didn’t see anything,” then this next part probably would have never happened. Not to say that Raymond should be punished for what he did say, just that you don’t want to give the police an opportunity like this to throw the book at you. Especially, when it seems the police have it out for you, like in Raymond’s case.
Within a few hours of his sentencing, Raymond posted, “Fuck Cops” to his Facebook timeline, which was seen by someone at the District Attorney’s Office. This lead Steven E. Gagne – the District Attorney on the case – to file a motion Friday asking the Judge to strike a condition he had set for probation — that he arrange to speak at a high school twice a year about his experience.
According to the Gazette.com:
“The defendant clearly has not accepted any responsibility for the willful and deliberate actions that resulted in his newfound status as a convicted felon,” Gagne wrote in his motion. “He is a terrible candidate to speak to area high school students and share what he considers to be ‘his story’ with them, and the commonwealth highly doubts any area school would want someone so lacking in insight and maturity addressing its students.”
Gagne said the Northwestern district attorney’s office discovered during its investigation that Paquette goes by the name Zach Wylde on Facebook. He said the “F— cops” post was up for at least 16 hours. It was removed later Friday.
“Although the defendant is well within his First Amendment rights to express whatever opinion he may have of law enforcement, this post makes clear that the defendant has learned absolutely nothing from his most recent brush from the law,” Gagne wrote in his motion.
When asked how the office came across the Facebook post Thursday, Gagne said, “Suffice it to say, Mr. Paquette should re-examine his privacy settings.”
Gagne asked Kinder to replace the requirement with an “alternative, time-equivalent requirement” and he will make his case at a hearing at 9 a.m. Monday. Case law allows a judge to alter probation conditions as long as the scope of the conditions is not increased, Gagne said.
I reached out to Raymond, who prefers to go by Zach, for comment, he stated that he can’t believe the DA’s office was watching his Facebook page and that he’s scared he’s going to face some sort of retaliation by members of the Northampton Police Department. He was looking forward to the opportunity to speak to kids but, at this time, is merely focusing on making it through his probation without harassment.
[UPDATE]: Zach emailed me this morning, before this post could be published, with this update:
“[I] just got home from my hearing about the state altering my probation over me saying “f*ck cops” on Facebook. They struck the term that I had to speak with high school kids 2 times per year, and replaced it with 20 hours of probation per year. Also the judge now wants to handle any further hearings, or court dates himself, pretty much to assure no matter what I do, I go to jail.”