Man Jailed Over Negative Yelp and Online Reviews Wants to Use Free Speech Defense at His Dallas Trial

Nobody who's in business likes bad online reviews. But one Dallas company got a North Texas man thrown in jail for saying negative things about it on a blog.And a jury will decide if it's a matter of free speech or a crime.William Laurence Stanley was charged on Dec. 6 in federal court in Dallas with a crime for his blog posts about Generational Equity, a Dallas merger and acquisitions company he once did work for. That's because Stanley was convicted last year of extorting the company. Stanley had threatened to ruin GE's reputation by flooding the internet with false and negative information unless it paid him about $29,500.He's now charged with retaliation.Stanley, who owned a "search engine optimization," or SEO business, said he was released from federal custody on Nov. 4. He said he wrote the controversial posts about GE prior to that, from a halfway house. He was arrested Nov. 30 and charged with the new offense after GE complained to the FBI about the online reviews.The company says the posts have already cost it about $75,000 in lost sales, and that it could potentially lose an additional $50,000 per day, according to an FBI complaint.GE officials could not be reached for comment.Stanley, 54, says he was exercising his right to free speech and that everything he wrote about the company is true. He vowed to seek a trial and mount a First Amendment defense.  Continue reading...

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