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May 02, 2016

FOP sues former Philly officer-turned-whistleblower over online allegations

Andre Boyer, dismissed from PPD in 2013, claims multiple police violations have been covered up by department

The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police has filed a defamation lawsuit against a former Philadelphia police officer whose Facebook account attempts to expose alleged crimes committed by active members of the police department.

The FOP claims that 49-year-old Andre Boyer, a 17-year-veteran of the force who was fired in 2013 over "credibility concerns," has repeatedly made defamatory allegations against officers he claims committed crimes ranging from theft and racism to sexual assault, according to Newsworks.

After Boyer's dismissal, he assumed the role of a whistleblower on Facebook, naming officers involved in alleged departmental investigations and other violations he believes have been swept under the rug.

In one instance, Boyer attempts to expose six officers who were allegedly reprimanded and ordered to pay $13,000 for an alleged pattern of incomplete shifts. In another case, citing an affidavit of probable cause, Boyer claims that a police lieutenant and several cohorts are "electric thieves" who scammed PECO in multiple southeastern Pennsylvania counties by rigging meters. Many of those officers, Boyer alleges, were never formally charged and were instead reassigned within the department as they repaid the utility company.

Boyer, who has stood by his allegations, sued the FOP last June, arguing that he received inadequate representation from an attorney appointed by the FOP during his bid for reinstatement.

"To put it simply, whistleblowers just don’t fare well," Boyer said in an email. "They are treated as pariahs. They often lose their family and jobs. They often face financial and personal ruin. But studies reveal if they had to do it over again, 87 percent would report misconduct again, keeping their moral compass intact."

In February, Boyer escalated his attack on police corruption, launching a GoFundMe page with a goal of $10,000 to help him cover attorney fees. He claims again on that page that two Philadelphia police officers planted 735 packets of heroin on a suspect after a car stop, a case he says cost him his job after he reported the officers for falsifying reports. To date, Boyer has raised just $50. 

Melissa Melewsky, a media law attorney with the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, told Newsworks that the FOP will have to prove Boyer's claims are false statements of fact in order to be considered defamation. Even then, she says, the involvement of public officials complicates the case because of a requirement that malice must be present in the allegations.