By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
The emails were explosive and dangerous, and they threw gas on the long-lit fire of racism in the criminal justice system.
Nik Hatziefstathiou, known by his nickname “Nik the Hat,” had seemingly revealed the racist and frightening thoughts of a high-ranking Delaware County, Pennsylvania, Adult Probation & Parole Supervisor.
“Good morning,” the supervisor purportedly wrote in an email that found its way splashed across the top of Hatziefstathiou’s Your Content News website.
“You do not have to worry about job security… ROFL… so long as there’s a nigger in our county, you will have a full slate.”
The email continues, “Make sure he registers as a [redacted] before applying. They’re extremely strict about that. Can’t have a bunch of [gang-bang] loving [redacted] in here … ha.”
Hatziefstathiou, Your Content News’ editor-in-chief and CEO of Original Media Group Corporation, cited more than two dozen county officials in a report that said all applicants in Delaware County must register as a Republican for hiring considerations.
Also, he reported that the Delaware County Department of Adult Probation & Parole employs no African Americans, and 1 percent of the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office are Black.
The 2019 story caused an uproar throughout Pennsylvania.
Because of the article, state legislators and Black activists led protests outside the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania requested Hatziefstathiou turn over the emails.
Believing there would be an investigation into systemic racism, Hatziefstathiou complied with the request.
During the investigation, authorities arrested Chester Police Officer Donald Jackson, who allegedly providing Hatziefstathiou with a taser.
According to police statements, Hatziefstathiou sent a text to Jackson with the following request: “Know anyone I can borrow a taser from? I’m going to be in some bad areas while I’m down there this weekend.”
Jackson’s reply? “I have one. You can’t tell anyone where you got it, though.”
The pair allegedly met, and Jackson handed Hatziefstathiou the weapon officials said belonged to a police captain.
Authorities didn’t identify Jackson as a source of the explosive email Hatziefstathiou obtained.
Instead, the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office hit him with a whopping 20 counts of fraud, including created a false government email.
Hatziefstathiou, 27, allegedly claimed that he worked for ABC News and the New York Times, according to the charging documents.
Authorities alleged that he opened the email account of ABC News reporter Stephanie Wash and New York Times reporter Liam Stack and sent emails through those accounts to obtain documents and recordings relating to the District Attorney’s investigation into police misconduct.
“The crimes that the defendant is alleged to have committed in this context are identity theft, unsworn falsifications to authorities and attempted theft by deception,” the District Attorney wrote in court filings.
Hatziefstathiou also is accused of tampering with public records, forgery, and unsworn false statements to authorities – the charge is directly related to the racist email.
He also faces a charge of making false statements to the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a press photographer’s registration for his vehicle.
Finally, prosecutors slapped Hatziefstathiou with a charge of tampering with identification – alleging that he removed a watermark titled “Cameo” from videos and replaced it with “Your Content News.”
Hatziefastathiou, an accomplished journalist whose sources made him the first to break the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to clear and release Bill Cosby, shared his attorney’s court filings with NNPA Newswire, suggesting that the email in question began as some responding to a request for a favor and escalated to the racist email.
Notes shared with the NNPA also suggest Hatziefstathiou may have received emails over weeks or months from several sources within the County’s Probation Office.
Officials expect the trial to begin on October 18.
It could include the first case where a sitting judge must testify about political figures and their special interests.
Hatziefstathiou and his staff at Your Content News said they’re standing behind their reporting.
“Everybody has a story,” Hatziefstathiou said in a statement.
“With the support of our readers and sources, we at Your Content introduced Delaware County to a new breed of journalism that explored the untold stories.
“At Your Content, the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of information to the public far outweigh the dangers which are cited to justify it. There is little value in ensuring the survival of the news industry—specifically our publication—if our traditions do not survive with it,” he concluded.
Hong Xie, the interim Editor-in-Chief at Your Content News, said the “political pundits have words and pieces of our confidential newsgathering material which they refer to as ‘proof.’ Our reporters involved in the May 25, 2019, publication have evidence – and at trial, we will understand which of those are more powerful. Some people victimize a vulnerable child and don’t get caught. Others lie, cheat, and get elected.”
Anthony Loro, the chief communications officer for Original Media Group, said he’s confident in Hatziefstathiou’s innocence.
“We stand by our reporting. But say authorities charged the tireless journalists who uncovered the Watergate or Catholic Archdiocese of Boston sex abuse scandals – who benefits? “Certainly not the public or victims,” Loro wrote in a statement.
“It’s far too late for the person who started this literal courthouse catch-and-kill campaign to reverse what they intentionally set-in motion. We know our team, especially Mr. Hatziefstathiou, will be on the right side of history in this dark Delaware County era.”