Westmoreland County elected official allegedly created fake Facebook accounts for political gain

ROSTRAVER TOWNSHIP, PA — According to court records, a Rostraver Township Commissioner is facing charges after he allegedly was spoofing numbers and setting up fake social media accounts.

Police said that he made fake social media profiles of his fellow commissioners and others.

On Nov. 20, 2020, a man reported to the Rostraver Township Police Department that there was a Facebook account in his name with pictures attached of him, and even personal information, according to the criminal complaint.

The man denied having any Facebook account and told police that he did not give anyone permission to create an account for him. He also did not give any permission to use the pictures of him on the account.

The account was found and the earliest post on the account was dated June 7, 2019.

Additionally, there were eight posts from the account from August to November 2020, that appeared to be reposts of articles that originated from an account named “John Lorenzo Rostraver Twp. Commissioner.” A majority of the posts appear to be related to issues involving Rostraver Township, such as road closures, openings, park functions and holiday events, according to court records.

Additionally, a post on Sept. 19, 2020, shows a photo of the man with an overlay stating “i’m with Eric Davanzo”.

The account was reported to Facebook as a fraudulent or parody account, but it was not removed and remained active for several months.

On Aug. 25, 2021, it was discovered that the account in question was an administrator of a Facebook group called Rostraver Township News and Information.

The group appeared to contain conversations about the township. Some got rather confrontational. The earliest post in the group came from an account in the name “John Lorenzo.”

Lorenzo stated at a public meeting on June 30, 2021, that he is the creator and administrator of the Facebook group. There were seven total moderators of the account, including Lorenzo.

On Sept. 9, 2021, a search warrant was issued for the fraudulent account. Following this, Facebook provided three phone numbers that were used on the account. Additionally, data revealed that there were private messages between multiple accounts, according to police.

On March 17, 2021, the man whose name the account was made under returned to police, stating that he was receiving texts that were unsolicited and annoyed him.

After police looked into these numbers and messages, they found that they were associated with Ad Hoc Labs Inc., a company that provides applications to create temporary phone numbers, police say.

Four search warrants were then issued for the numbers to Ad Hoc Labs Inc. They provided data showing that they were the same phone numbers used on the fraudulent account. One number was found to still belong to John Joseph Lorenzo, according to court documents.

This was not the only account that Lorenzo was involved in, however. Police stated that an additional two accounts were compromised, along with a string of text messages sent to and from uninvolved individuals.

On July 8, 2021, police say that search warrants were issued for the two additional accounts. Facebook provided information that showed both accounts having an additional phone number attached, the same one that belonged to Lorenzo.

As of Nov. 18, 2021, neither of these two additional accounts are accessible, according to police.

The text messages sent to a person date back to March of 2020. They were from multiple numbers and all turned out to be the same ones from Ad Hoc Labs, Inc.

A warrant was also issued for the IP address from Comcast. On Aug. 3, 2021, they stated that the IP address belonged to Tony Lorenzo on Hickory Drive in West Newton, PA.

Lorenzo shared the following statement:

“These accusations will not define who I am. I never thought politics could sink to these depths. These lies have absolutely devastated my family and has my livelihood in jeopardy. But make no mistake about it the truth will come out in the end and I will be vindicated. I have not done anything wrong nor broken any laws. This is all a dirty political driven stunt with a false narrative to smear my name. This is what happens when you do good in the community and a select few want to see you fail and fall. I stand by my reputation, body of work, and transparency that I’ve shown while not only being in office, or coaching multiple sports over the years, but also through my 25 years of community service and my 2 years as Commissioner where I’ve dedicated everything to this Township. I bleed the Rostraver green and white and will continue to serve the residents of the community with accountability, respect, and integrity. I won’t let these lies faze me or take away from my duty to this Township. I will always be here for each and every one of you.”

“I am going back to work serving the residents of Rostraver. I do want to Thank you all for the support. My family and I greatly appreciate all the calls and texts of support and encouragement. We can’t thank you all enough. God Bless you all and please keep us in your prayers.”