Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
From the Boston Globe:
Federal prosecutors look into fake fax from their office alleging cannibalism
By Michael Weissenstein, Associated Press, 2/22/2002 23:28
NEW YORK (AP) Federal prosecutors were investigating how a bogus news release describing cannibalism in Guam by "half-naked natives with bones through their noses" was faxed from their office to New York media outlets Friday.
The release, on Department of Justice letterhead, describes the indictment of three associates of the "Columbomumbo Crime Tribe" "Chief Boomba-Lumba," "Samba-Lamba" and "Ngaka-Laka" in federal court "in connection with a scheme to manipulate the market for shells, bones, arrowheads and other items traded on the South Pacific potlatch market."
Deputy U.S. Attorney David Kelley said the mock press release was produced in jest by U.S. attorney's office employees, whom he declined to name, and was sent in error by clerical workers. He declined to answer further questions.
He said later in a written statement: "We do not stand by the contents of the release and understand there to be no basis in fact to the representations set forth in that release. We are examining the circumstances under which this document was transmitted to you."
The fax was sent from an office of James Comey, the U.S. attorney for Manhattan, who is responsible for the prosecution of federal crimes including civil rights violations and terrorism. Comey's predecessor, Mary Jo White, won renown for major terrorism trials including the prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers.
The bogus release says the defendants were charged in connection with the deaths of five tourists "who perished in ritual human sacrifice and cannibalism ceremonies."
The release attributes to Patrick Smith, an actual assistant U.S. attorney, the statement: "Whether it's the traditional La Cosa Nostra (`LCN') or a bunch of mobbed-up, half-naked natives with bones through their noses, I will hunt them down and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law."
The mock fax was sent to The Associated Press around 5:30 p.m. About three hours later, Comey's office released the statement from Kelley saying that the initial fax was sent without authorization from the White Plains office of the U.S. attorney to "several members of the media."
"We're also examining all the circumstances surrounding the document," U.S. attorney's spokesman Marvin Smilon said. "We also find the contents offensive and repugnant."
Smilon said he believed Smith was unaware of the mock fax. He did not say which media outlets received the transmission.
The four-page bogus fax made up the final section of a six-page transmission whose first pages were a seemingly legitimate press release describing a guilty plea in a tax evasion case. It provided a non-working telephone number for Smith.
The mock release reads: "In furtherance of the scheme, Chief Boomba-Lumba, who controlled the supply of conch shells on Saipan, caused false reports of a conch shell shortage to be transmitted over the inter-tribal bongo drum communications network, setting off a frenzy of demand for the shells."
Although the people of Guam aren't "Native Americans" as they're commonly defined, they are indigenous people and US citizens, so we can stretch the contest boundaries to include them.
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