Tabloid Writer Convicted of Forging Racist Officials Email | New

PHILADELPHIA – A man from Broomall who worked as an international tabloid reporter was convicted this week of forgery, identity theft and forging public documents after state prosecutors said he “used electronic devices as weapons “by creating a racist email that claimed to be from an official Delaware county.

Nikolaos Hatziefstathiou, 28, was found guilty by a jury on Thursday after a four-day media trial. In addition to the conviction for creating the fake email, jurors found him guilty of impersonating New York Times reporter Liam Stack and ABC News correspondent Stephanie Walsh , in an attempt to interest county prosecutors in his allegations of harassment by a local police officer. .

Hatziefstathiou, known as “Nik the Hat,” posted an article on his website, YC News, in 2019 claiming that a confidential source forwarded him an email from a supervisor in the probation department and County of Delaware Adult Parole. The email, reproduced by Hatziefstathiou in his article, used the n word and made fun of the county’s black residents.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Kelly Sekula, the senior prosecutor in charge of the case, said Hatziefstathiou’s actions were part of a “pathetic effort to strengthen his own profile”.

“He tried to draw attention to himself by creating the fake Stephanie Walsh and Liam Stack emails, and when that failed he turned his attention to a story that would generate publicity: racism. at high levels of county government, ”Sekula said. “And it worked.”

Hatziefstathiou’s lawyer, Norm Pattis, objected to this claim. He described his client as “America’s most trusted fake news reporter,” a sardonic mockery of the label prosecutors gave him upon his arrest.

Everything Hatziefstathiou did, Pattis said, was legitimate, as was the email from the probation department he posted. The whole charge, he said, was an attempt by Delaware County to get revenge on a reporter who “asks awkward questions of those in power.”

“Information gets to reporters from sources that do not want to be disclosed, and reporters protect the identity of those sources and seek to confirm or corroborate what these sources have told them,” Pattis said. “That’s what Nik Hatziefstathiou did in this case.”

The YC News article quickly gained attention and prompted a press conference from State Representative Margo Davidson, a Delaware County Democrat and other local officials.

Upon investigating the email, county officials began to suspect that it was a fake – they could not find any traces of it on the county’s email servers.

Investigators obtained search warrants for Hatziefstathiou’s iPhone and Macbook and discovered that he created the email himself, using a legitimate email from his own probation supervisor as a template. During the trial, Sekula asked forensic experts to recreate the step-by-step process Hatziefstathiou followed to compose the email by scanning the email he received and using editing software. photo to insert a racist message.

Detectives found evidence that Hatziefstathiou emailed then district attorney Katayoun Copeland from accounts he created in the names of Stack and Walsh. In the messages, Hatziefstathiou, posing as reporters, pressured Copeland for information about the alleged harassment against him by a Marple Township detective.

Pattis admitted that Hatziefstathiou sent the emails, but said he only did so because Copeland and his office ignored his requests for an investigation into the harassment.

“His goal was to engage law enforcement. His goal was to get them to investigate,” Pattis said. “His purpose was to ask for help, help he had been denied.”

Sekula said that in truth Hatziefstathiou’s goal was much simpler.

“This case comes down to one thing, one person: Nik,” she said. “His ego, his need for attention and his total disregard for others.”

Hatziefstathiou will be sentenced by Delaware County Judge John P. Capuzzi, Sr. in November.

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