Erie, PA – A Pennsylvania news anchor and producer is now facing a dozen charges for allegedly fabricating evidence and lying to police about being the victim of a stalker.
Multimedia journalist Haley Potter, 24, contacted the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Erie station on April 3 and reported that an unknown person had been harassing and stalking her, WJET reported.
According to court documents, Potter told investigators that she began receiving text messages from someone in February, and that the contact eventually turned into unwanted phone calls and voicemails, the Erie Times-News reported.
“The messages became sexual in nature, and of a harassing/stalking nature when the person knew about the defendant’s actions and whereabouts at all times of (the) day and night,” an affidavit of probable cause read.
Potter said she was away from her apartment for about a week in March and that she returned home to find a note that had been slipped under her apartment door inside her secured building, the Erie Times-News reported.
“Welcome Home, Haley,” it read.
The Erie News Now anchor allegedly told PSP investigators that the supposed stalker must have somehow gained entry to the apartment complex, the Erie Times-News reported.
She also claimed the unknown person hacked into her social media accounts and used them to send a sexually explicit note to her boyfriend, according to court documents.
Potter reported having received flowers and an anonymous note in mid-June, and said someone used her debit card to book an Erie hotel room later that month, the Erie Times-News reported.
No one ever checked in, according to police.
Potter notified PNC Bank about the supposedly fraudulent $414.61 charge to her account, which the bank then covered.
But the news anchor’s ruse began to crumble after the PSP tracked the IP address used to allegedly hack her social media accounts, the Erie Times-News reported.
The IP address came back to Potter’s own cell phone.
During an interrogation on July 8, Potter allegedly “admitted to fabricating the stalker and being the person responsible for all of the messages/phone calls and fraudulent activity,” according to the affidavit.
Investigators further determined Potter falsely accused a 26-year-old man as part of her scheme, and that she used his identity without his consent, court documents stated.
The investigation into the alleged hoax took up three months of the PSP’s time, WJET reported.
“It was revealed that Potter had been responsible for all of the messages and stalker activity she reported having been the victim of,” the agency’s report read. “The entire incident had been falsified by Potter and she misled the Pennsylvania State Police over the course of a three-month investigation.”
Potter has been charged with disorderly conduct, tampering/fabricating physical evidence, false reports to law enforcement reporting an offense that did not occur, false reports to law enforcement implicating another person, unsworn falsification to authorities, false swearing to mislead a public servant, identity theft, receiving stolen property, theft by unlawful taking, access device fraud, criminal use of a communication facility, and forgery, WJET reported.
Potter joined the Erie News Now team in June of 2020 after interning there back in 2019, the Erie Times-News reported.
Erie News Now Director Scott MacDowell said the news outlet had been made aware of the situation involving Potter, but he refused to discuss the matter further, the Erie Times-News reported.
“It is our corporate policy at Erie News Now that we will not offer comment regarding any internal personnel issues or pending legal matters,” MacDowell said.
Potter’s attorney, Charbel Latouf, also refused to discuss the allegations, the Erie Times-News reported.
“We reject the allegations wholeheartedly and intend to vigorously defend her against them,” Latouf said.
Potter was arrested and arraigned on July 11, WJET reported.
Her preliminary hearing has been set for July 28, according to the Erie Times-News.