Brewer’s deputy mayor is accused of filing a false police report after he claimed earlier this week that someone hacked into his social media accounts and made racist statements about the George Floyd killing.
Thomas Morelli was charged with making a false public report in connection with the incident and was issued a court summons, according to Brewer Public Safety Director Jason Moffitt. He has resigned from the Brewer City Council effective immediately, according to Brewer Mayor Jerry Goss.
“I am ashamed of my comments and behavior,” Morelli said in his resignation statement. “The public trust of a City Councilor is vital to the citizens, and I breached that with my participation in Facebook trolling. What has occurred is not worthy of a public official.”
Morelli is due in court on July 15, Moffitt said.
On Monday, Morelli told Brewer police that someone had gained access to his Facebook profile and posted racist comments about Floyd, a black man who died on Memorial Day after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him down by the neck with a knee. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with murder and Floyd’s family ordered an autopsy finding he died of asphyxia. The killing has roiled the nation in recent days, causing widespread protests that have reached up to Maine, where they have been held in Bangor, Belfast, Rockland and Portland.
The city of Brewer received threats over the comments, Moffitt said Wednesday.
Moffitt said that an investigation found Morelli had posted the comments and then made a false report to Brewer police. Police have not disclosed the nature of the comments other than they related to the Floyd killing.
Morelli did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
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Goss called Morelli’s Facebook comments — which he said included racial slurs — “derogatory and inflammatory.”
“This is not acceptable behavior in the city of Brewer,” the mayor said.
While Goss hadn’t seen the comments, he said Morelli posted them as part of a “give-and-take around George Floyd and around the whole issue of racial inequality.”
“I do know that he is torn up by this. He is devastated by this,” Goss said of Morelli, whom he described as a friend. “But they are actions that he brought on himself, and we need to make this a teachable moment and move forward to make things better not just in the city of Brewer, but in our country in general.”
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Morelli was serving his first term on the council, having been elected to the three-year term in November 2018. He is a 1975 Brewer High School graduate and a professional photographer, according to a council biography that has since been deleted from Brewer’s city website. He also co-hosted a morning call-in show on local talk radio station WVOM.
Goss has appointed Councilor Joseph Ferris to take Morelli’s place as deputy mayor.
Filing a false report is a Class D crime punishable by less than a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.
BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.