The coffee shop owner said she was surprised by the arrest of 39-year-old Sam Peterson, who is a toolmaker, volunteer firefighter, and secretary of a bagpipe club. "He could have just come in the cafe, even if he didn't have any money, I would let him get on it," said the owner. Before the arrest, Peterson had no criminal record.
In the article about the incident, Sparta police chief Andrew Milanowski and Kent County assistant prosecuting attorney Lynn Hopkins come off as brittle, badly-programmed automatons.
"I was sitting there reading my e-mail and he came up and stuck his head inside my window and asked me who I was spying on," Peterson told FOXNews.com.Link (Thanks, Alasdairs!)
Someone from a nearby barbershop had called cops after seeing Peterson's car pull up every day and sit in front of the coffee shop without anybody getting out.
"I just curiously asked him, 'Where are you getting the Internet connection?', you know," Sparta Police Chief Andrew Milanowski said. "And he said, 'From the café.'"
Milanowski ruled out Peterson as a possible stalker of the attractive local hairdresser, but still felt that a law might have been broken.
"We came back and we looked up the laws and we figured if we found one and thought, 'Well, let's run it by the prosecutor's office and see what they want to do,'" Milanowski said.
A few weeks later Peterson said he received a letter from the Kent County prosecutor's office saying that he faced a felony charge of fraudulent access to computer networks and that a request had been made for an arrest warrant.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects