Police: Detective of the Year May Be Victim of Facebook Identity Theft

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee January 13, 2010

Seattle police are investigating a possible case of identity theft after a member of the department's arson and bomb squad discovered that someone has been impersonating him on a social networking site.

According to a search warrant affidavit filed last month, Detective John Lewitt, a member of SPD's Arson/Bomb squad, contacted the department's fraud and identity theft unit on December 15th and reported that had found a Facebook account opened in his name, and that the owner of the account had "friended" fourteen of his high school classmates. 

Lewitt has been with the department for more than 20 years and was heavily involved in the recent investigation of series of arson fires in Greenwood. In October, Lewitt was named SPD's 2009 Detective of the Year. The affidavit says Lewitt graduated from Kent-Meridian High School in 1975 and, according to his statement included in the affidavit, "i'm the only John Lewitt that has gone to Kent-Meridian."

In the warrant affidavit, Det. David Dunn wrote that Lewitt "has been the subject of threats" and that "there are people both incarcerated and not incarcerated that may want to harm Det. Lewitt." Dunn also notes that Det. Lewitt's caseload in the arson/Bomb squad "often involve[s] people who are willing to take significant steps to commit very serious acts of violence."

After Lewitt and Dunn discussed whether the account might have been set up as a practical joke, Detective Dunn emailed the account holder. "Before I launch an official investigation, if this is just a joke, or you are a family member or friend, please call me," Dunn wrote in an email. "I would like to prevent this from getting out of hand."

According to the affidavit, Dunn never received a response. When Dunn checked for the account several days later, he found that the name on the account had been changed from John Lewitt to Joanne Lotte. A short time later, the account holder apparently deleted the fake profile.

"These two acts raised my level of suspicion and I become concerned that this may not be a practical joke and was possibly associated with some kind of criminal activity or could be  a threat to the safety of Det. Lewitt and his family," Det. Dunn wrote in the affidavit.

Police say the case is still under investigation and has not been referred to the prosecutor's office. We'll update if and when police (face)book someone into jail.

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