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April Fool’s Prank Gone Bad Leads to NFTA Investigation

Niagara Frontier Transit Authority police are investigating a girl for her irresponsible April Fool’s Day prank.

Officers respond to a mother in distress

Yesterday a woman called 911, according to police, to report that she received a call from her daughter saying she had been shot at the LaSalle Avenue metro station. Moments later, the girl called her mother again and confessed that it was a prank. The mother notified the NFTA police right away, but officers had already begun investigating the matter. Now police say they may charge the girl.

Barry Covert, a well-known criminal defense attorney at the Buffalo law firm Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, was asked by WGRZ for his analysis of the incident.

Watch the full interview on WGRZ.

Prankster unlikely to be charged

“It really doesn’t look like she’s going to be facing any charges that can stick,” Mr. Covert said. “In this case, she did not call law enforcement. She clearly did not intend for the person that she called to call law enforcement, because she called right back and said ‘hey, April fool’s joke.’ Because she didn’t call law enforcement or ask anyone to call law enforcement on her behalf, it’s very difficult for any charges to stick here.”

Noting that, while police need to take this kind of incident seriously, this particular incident seems to “fall within the cracks.” Mr. Covert said, “If she had called a non-law enforcement person and said something like ‘a bomb is going to blow up and so you better empty the building’ and caused public inconvenience, that could be a crime. Or calling law enforcement directly and saying ‘I’ve been shot,’ and making them respond.” But this, he said, “seems to fall within the cracks.”

While acknowledging that repercussions for her behavior might help dissuade others from pulling similar stunts in the future, Mr. Covert said, “That may be what the public wants, but under the criminal statute, there’s really nothing to charge her with.”

About Barry Covert

A senior partner in Lipsitz Green’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Covert is known for his aggressive representation of clients in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; constitutional law, including First Amendment, Second Amendment, civil rights actions, and federal False Claims Act matters; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense.

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