On Wednesday September 19, 2012, Mark Lee-Purvis was convicted by a jury of his peers of Intimidation, Retaliation and Terrostic Threat charges for threats he made on the internet after a 2004 illegal firearms transaction. This is the first time in Philadelphia that a defendant has been convicted by a jury for something that was posted on the internet. After Lee-Purvis and a co-defendant were arrested for the illegal sale of firearms, his co-defendant became a cooperating witness for the Commonwealth.
As a result of that cooperation, Lee-Purvis started posting threatening messages on his Facebook page. The messages called the cooperating co-defendant a “Rat”, and urged Lee-Purvis’ friends to “bring the rat outta hiding.” Lee-Purvis also specified where the co-defendant and his pregnant girlfriend could be found, and also promised to post the co-defendant’s photo at a later date. The same Facebook posting also contained a picture of a rat inside a circle and crossed by a line with the words “I Hate Rats” and “No Rats Allowed.” As promised a few days later, the defendant posted the co-defendant’s photo with the word “RAT” written on the photograph.
Despite the threats, the cooperating co-defendant took the stand and testified against Lee-Purvis at trial. It took the jury less than two hours to find the defendant guilty. He faces up to 19 years in prison when he is sentenced by the Honorable Barbara McDermott on October 22, 2012. ADA Andrei Govorov of the GVTF successfully prosecuted this case.