Lawsuit alleges counterfeit email defamation

2013-06-23T17:30:00Z 2013-06-23T21:17:10Z Lawsuit alleges counterfeit email defamationStan Maddux Times Correspondent
June 23, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

LONG BEACH | The clerk-treasurer in Long Beach is going to court alleging emails bad-mouthing a member of the lakefront community were sent to many local residents and were made to seem as if he sent the electronic messages.

In the lawsuit filed in May in LaPorte Circuit Court, Bill deFuniak said his reputation and business has suffered as a result of the emails he did not send.

The lawsuit names as defendants Long Beach resident Neil Heywood and his wife, Anne Heywood, who is the former Long Beach clerk-treasurer, along with Merola Services, a company the Heywoods own.

DeFuniak claims the email address used to send the email containing "crude and vulgar" language about a fellow Long Beach citizen was similar to his email address and bore his name.

The lawsuit also claims the person referred to in the emails was alleged to have committed illegal acts in the past.

Anne Heywood was clerk-treasurer in the upscale lakefront community for 12 years until defeated by deFuniak in 2011.

DeFuniak alleges in the lawsuit the counterfeit email and message were sent to a large number of people and were geared to portray him in a negative light and to purposely injure his livelihood and reputation.

DeFuniak's attorney, Michael Knight, of South Bend, would not disclose further specifics or answer questions about the case.

"It's a matter of litigation and I'm really not at liberty to say anything more than that," Knight said.

The attorney for the Heywoods, Steven Bush, of Valparaiso, said he would not comment until after he files a formal response to the allegations contained in the lawsuit with the court, which might be in a week.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in punitive and other damages as compensation under allegations including of libel and invasion of privacy.

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