Authorities said a Sullivan Central student’s apparent prank with a Twitter account — presenting himself as Director of Sullivan County Schools Dr. Jubal Yennie, while proclaiming he “hated” kids and spewing profanity — has prompted a charge of identity theft.
The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office reported a criminal summons was issued for Ira Trey Quesenberry III, 18, of Barger Hollow Road in Blountville. He turned himself in Wednesday afternoon for booking and was released.
On Jan. 18, Yennie contacted police to report someone had opened a Twitter account using his name and posted his photo. SCSO Detective Matthew Price began investigating the case and developed the suspect as Quesenberry, a student at Sullivan Central High School on Shipley Ferry Road.
Price said he was able to identify Quesenberry in part by the Twitter users following the bogus Yennie account, along with the subject matter of the tweets. Investigators also interviewed school personnel.
Upon speaking with Price, Quesenberry allegedly admitted to being responsible.
“Initially his intent was to be funny, maybe, but he didn’t think through the consequences of it at the time,” said Price.
The Twitter account has since been disabled, with police deferring comment on what the feed actually tweeted. When reached for comment, Yennie declined to offer specifics of the offending tweets.
“Most of it was harmless,” Yennie told the Times-News. “Snow day type tweets and things like that; whether or not the superintendent is going to call the school day off. The problem is there was an impersonation, nonetheless. The account was new, but if we hadn’t nipped it in the bud, harmless could have turned to harmful. It’s a strong lesson for the young man to learn.”
Internet searches by the Times-News were able to recover the bogus Twitter account. It had 39 followers and was following 64 other Twitter users.
On Jan. 17 — one day before Yennie contacted police about the bogus account — Jubal Yennie@JubalYennie posted, “I hate (expletive) kids.”
That was followed by, “jubal may be a (expletive) name but from what I see I can tell you drive a (expletive) car??? ”
Meanwhile, a review of Quesenberry’s Twitter feed revealed he had made Yennie-related tweets that same day: “I’m seriously effed. Yennie... Bail a bro out” followed later by, “Jubal.... you’re a (expletive).”
Another Quesenberry tweet referenced “everyone and their mom” asking him about “the Yennie account.”
Quesenberry is scheduled to appear in General Sessions court in Bristol at 9 a.m. today.
“Creating a Twitter account or any other type of account to impersonate someone is a crime,” said Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart. “Regardless of whether the account was created as a joke, it could potentially have negative consequences, directly impacting the victim’s life and the lives of others, especially in a case where the victim is a public figure.”
Staff writer Wes Bunch contributed to this report.