Jeremy Alcede would rather go to jail than lose his social media accounts. The former gun-store owner turned himself into US Marshals rather than hand his Twitter and Facebook passwords over to a bankruptcy court.
Alcede contends that the accounts are his personal property under the First Amendment because he used them to promote his strong conservative political beliefs, The Wall Street Journal reported. Chief United States Bankruptcy Judge Jeff Bohm disagreed and contends that the accounts belonged to Tactical Firearms, a Katy, Texas, gun store that Alcede lost in bankruptcy. He ordered Alcede jailed until he turns over the passwords.
“While Mr. Alcede was in charge of the debtor, the debtor was known for its marquee displaying messages promoting gun rights and criticizing President Barack Obama — no doubt with the objective of increasing gun and ammunition sales,” Bohm wrote in his opinion.
Alcede owned 70 percent of Tactical Firearms but had to turn it over to his former business partner, Steven Coe Wilson. The business is now owned by John Boyert and called Boyert Shooting Center.
Bohm rejected Alcede’s contention that the First Amendment gave him the right to keep the Facebook and Twitter pages. Social media accounts, the judge ruled, “provide valuable access to customers and potential customers.”
Said Alcede, “I don’t understand how it benefits the company when followers were following me.”
“Never ever was it a personal page,” Boyert told Houston TV Station Fox26. “It was always a company page.”
The page is now called Jeremy Alcede Entrepreneur.
It may be the first ruling of its kind.
“It’s a very interesting question, and it’s clearly a relatively unsettled area of law,” Chicago bankruptcy lawyer Thomas Fawkes told The Journal.
The shop had attracted a lot of attention in the Houston area for the controversial political messages that Alcede was posting on a sign in front of it and on social media. Typical messages included:
- “Honk if you support open carry/Don’t tread on me.”
- “Does one of Obama’s family members have to be beheaded for ‘change’ to happen?”
- “I like my guns like Obama likes his voters/undocumented.”
Alcede contends that he went into bankruptcy and lost the store because of Operation Choke Point, a Department of Justice investigation that critics claimed targeted gun dealers and pay lenders, The Journal reported. He also blamed executives at Icon bank for cancelling his loans.
“What this system is trying to do to Tactical Firearms right now is a travesty of justice, and it’s just one more sign of the kind of punitive insanity we are seeing played out across this great nation by a network of anti-American individuals who are attempting to destroy the fabric of this nation one day at a time,” Alcede wrote in a post for a GoFundMe campaign, the Journal reported. The GoFundMe campaign has since stopped.
Bohm disagreed and ruled that Tactical Firearms failed because Alcede had mismanaged it.
“I can envision this business doing very well,” Bohm said of Tactical Firearms. “A lot of jobs are at stake and frankly to the extent that people want to be able to buy guns or want to be able to shoot guns … right now, this business is providing those goods and services.”
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