GREENLAND - An Eliot, Maine, man, who worked as a school bus driver for First Student, is facing federal charges alleging he threatened and stalked an 8-year-old child attending Greenland Central School.
Michael Chick, 39, is facing federal interstate stalking charges, alleging he crossed the state lines to threaten a child and the child's family, according to Jane Young, U.S. attorney for New Hampshire.
Court documents allege that Chick had given the boy a TracFone with instructions to take inappropriate photographs, placed GPS tracking devices on his parents' vehicles to track if they went to police, and made multiple visits to the family's home at night.
The boy told investigators Chick used a story about a group of criminals he called "The Team" who would kill his family, kidnap him and torture him if he did not comply with their demands, which included taking photographs and videos of himself.
Footage and audio taken inside the bus shows conversations between the boy and Chick, instructing the boy to hide the phone, lie about where he got it, and take the phone into the bathroom with him at school, according to court documents.
Upon searching Chick's residence, surveillance cameras, TracFones, large plastic bags of children's underwear, and other evidence was found, authorities say. Notes written on school bus student permission slips that read "$1,000 per week is what is keeping your family alive and together" were also found, corresponding with conversations caught on the bus' audio and video system. A series of other threatening notes were also found, threatening things like "or the kid disappears" and instructions on how to take inappropriate selfies, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
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ourt documents allege Chick had been giving the boy and his sister gifts regularly on the bus, which started out as candy or Pokemon merchandise, and later led to the phones.
Court documents describe that the boy's parents started to become suspicious because of Chick's obsession with the boy, even asking to attend his youth baseball game. The parents of the children told investigators their children had been asked by Chick where they leave a house key.
The parents first reported Chick to the school district in April, and again in May, when a Greenland police officer instructed Chick not to contact the family. Even after Chick was reassigned bus routes, the contact between him and the boy continued.
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In July, the family reported Chick to the police again, after finding two TracFone cell phones in a Pokemon lunch box in the boy's room. The parents told investigators that their son admitted they were given as gifts by Chick after his last encounter with police.
Parents told prosecutors that they feared for their family's safety.
Chick had an initial appearance hearing in federal district court Monday afternoon, and he will be detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for Aug. 18. Chick is represented by Behzad Mirhashem, a federal public defender, who declined to comment.
A press conference will be held later today with new updates about the case, according to Young's office.
This story will be updated.
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: School bus driver charged with threatening Greenland boy, family