Owner of tow company used by NJ cops smeared by sex-offender mailing
HOWELL — The owner of a towing company that's used by township police and state troopers is fighting back after residents received fake letters accusing of being a Megan's Law sex offender.
An official-looking letter addressed from the state Attorney General's Office claims Mike Stahnten, of Howell, is on the Megan's list. His company, Certified Auto Mall, has operated in Howell since 1999.
Stahnten's older brother, Billy, told New Jersey 101.5 the letters are a personal attack and that "my brother's done nothing wrong ever let alone this."
"We have huge roots in our community. There's been a lot of community support. Obviously my brother was not happy he's been hurt. We all were. But in the end we know he's done nothing wrong so we're just going to carry on," Billy Stahnten said.
Billy Stahnten would not speculate on who might be behind the letters but said his family will not cower and they will come out stronger from the experience.
"We can't thank the community, the police department, our neighbors and our customers enough for all the support and the ongoing and continued efforts to catch the perpetrator," Billy Stahnten said.
Howell police said they believe the letter was sent "in retaliation for operating a successful business and to prevent further growth opportunities."
Howell police asked anyone who receives a letter to not open it and to turn it into police. Howell police told CBS New York that 20 letters have been recovered. Police did not immediately return a message on Friday morning asking about the investigation.
Under Title 18, Code 1342 using a false return address on mail carries a prison term of a maximum of five years.
According to Megan's Law guidelines, any notification needed about a registered sex offender moving into an area is hand-delivered.
Megan's Law guidelines say that sex offenders must register with their local police, and the information is shared with State Police and the county prosecutor. Prosecutors review the case and determine if the offender is a Tier 1 (low risk), Tier 2 (moderate risk) or Tier 3 (high risk).
Residents are notified when a Tier 3 (high risk) offender has moved into a neighborhood. The notification is delivered in person to an adult member of a household by police or the prosecutor's office.
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