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News :: Media
Reporter / Producer / Publisher / ...Wiretapper?
20 Oct 2005
Modified: 07:32:52 PM
Boston Reporter and convicted Wiretapper "Freeman Z" launches public awareness campaign to expose MBTA Police and other police abuses of Mass wiretap law through which cops 'felonize' whistle-blowers and witnesses of police crimes.


In September 2002, veteran radio reporter Jeff Manzelli (AKA Freeman Z) was routinely reporting on the weekly peace demo's that have now occured above Park Street Station for seven years.

As the demonstration was wrapping up, the reporter took his final shot of the day, showing the participants leaving, and the two MBTA Officers on the scene, Harer and Riel.

Immediately after the shutter dropped, Harer approached Manzelli, spouting bizarre and incorrect legal information to dissuade the reporter, and threatening legal action should the photo be published. Manzelli's a founder of a family magazine and a published photographer with credits including The Quaker AFSC's "Peacework" and "The Utne Reader")

Being a radio reporter (who's reports from Quebec to Washington D.C., have aired on WMBR, WZBC, WMFO, WBRS,) the police attack, which was a clear violation of Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 265: Section 37<>;, was possibly recorded through the reporters hand-held microphone and also potentially recorded on his cassette recorder.

Having blundered into actual accountability, Harer charged the reporter with wiretapping, thereby nullifying the potential recording's evidentiary use in Massachusetts court, though its admissability in any Federal civill rights action is unclear.


A Boston Municipal Court jury, including at least one aide to Governor Romney, found Manzelli guilty of felony wiretapping in 2002.

in that trial, Harer and Riel concocted a story with a spin eerily similar to that used in an earlier, successful prosecution of Michael Hyde, who had secretly recorded police during a traffic stop. The approach prosecution used suggested that Manzelli hid his recording devices and provoked the MBTA Police, perhaps in order to sue in a get-rich quick scam. Harer and Riel both testified Manzelli had harassed them with his camera and flash, papparazzi-style.


Hyde's unsuccessful appeal set a dangerous precedent, upholding 'privacy rights' for cops on the job, and taking this wiretap law places it never was designed to go.

A dissenting judge wrote a dire warning regarding Hyde's conviction, and wrote that the Rodney King videographer could have been convicted in Massachusetts. (Though a silly technicality might modify this, as the recording was unintelligible until it was electronically recovered...but the Mass law does refer to attempting limbo and confusion all around.)


The conviction is under appeal on several points which will be published around Hallowe'en.


Manzelli, who's life and family have been extremely disturbed by this bizarre totalitarian twist of law, had feared retaliation during his two-years of probation, during which time, 'authorities' could search his home at any time, so he dared not speak out. He was approached by MBTA Police during probation, once with a threat to arrest simply for watching MBTA police searching a man. Another T-cop approached, asking "Are you recording me?"

Manzelli adds: "Now I travel on the T, but with prophylaxis. For example, I have people who travel with me incognito, to help and to witness in case of any more harassment from the MBTA Police, who's history of ridiculous scandals...I mean pointless, purerile stuff, suggests their time has come and gone. Just search the web for MBTA Police plus 'scandal,' or similar terms. Problem is, they're being pumped up by the Bush Administation's Homeland Insecurity, not despite, but because they are unprofessional and thoroughly corruptible" He continues: "...Isn't that right former MBTA Police Chief O'Donovan? (apparently booted a few years ago...for his own unprofessional conduct.)

Now he's speaking out to the State House, City Hall and in public: "I'm mad as hell, and I can hardly believe what my state government's doing to protect rogue cops. These are the bastards who give police a bad reputation, and they should be kicked out on their asses. If Harer's so stupid as to break the law, intimidating a reporter who's holding an eight-inch long microphone, how can we expect this bumblehead to protect us from a real criminal (rather than a reporter) with ...maybe...a his hand?"

Manzelli's original website,, was in the top one percent of sites by traffic ranking when Harer's intrusion crashed the project. Now the site's back with new photo reports, including a comprehensive article on his arrest, prosecution, and the campaign to reform the wiretap law. <>;


Manzelli's campaign has included giving his own testimony at Park Street Station (the 'scene of the crime') and some engaging street theater provided by Ian Maxwell "No Permit" MacKinnon, a veteran performer who challenges city permits for extemporaneous political speech. As Crime Pig McTrough, MacKinnon drew a crowd, promising to get to the bottom of this fiasco and handing out stickers, some of which are rumored to have landed on MBTA equipment.

more info at:
09-McTrough (106 k)
See also:

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