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Man gets jail term for stalking called ‘political’ harassment

ESCANABA — A Gladstone man was sentenced to 150 days in jail for stalking in Delta County, after sending threats to a former county commissioner’s ex-wife in what was described by prosecutors as “political” harassment.

Paul David Mason, of Gladstone, was in court on Wednesday for his sentencing related to charges of stalking Anastasia VanEnkevort. Mason pled no contest to the charges.

VanEnkevort first filed a police report with the Escanaba Public Safety Department back in May of 2023 regarding a suspicious situation involving online messages. VanEnkevort showed police messages she received on Facebook Messenger from an account tied to the name “Amber Lee Larsen.” The responding officer believed that the account was fake.

Police were able to match the phone number associated with the account to Mason as well as access chat logs on Facebook. The report states that the messages contained cyber bullying and constant harassment.

An officer set up a meeting with Mason at Escanaba Public Safety where Mason admitted he likes the drama. The officer made Mason aware of the situation and that people were feeling threatened by his actions. Mason was informed that he has a right to free speech, but threats are never OK.

Mason said that he would have never followed through with the actions mentioned in messages and he was drunk when he was messaging people. He apologized and said he would shut down the account and avoid Facebook as well as messaging people while he drinks.

The officer followed up with VanEnkevort and told her that he knew who the account belonged to and that Mason does not really know her or her where she lives.

VanEnkevort then showed the officer a recent text from the Larsen account that read, “Anastasia we know where everyone lives watch out for the demons to take of the 3 commissioners. The other 2 will survive. Be careful what you wish for we are watching you all.”

Mason’s sentencing Wednesday was before Delta County District Court Judge Steve Parks. Because of the threats made to VanEnkevort involving the three county commissioners that were recently recalled, the case was prosecuted by Alger County Prosecuting Attorney Robert T. Steinhoff, to avoid any conflicts of interest.

“I believe when someone is behind a keyboard, they forget that there is a human being on the other side of the screen. The impact of their actions remains out of sight and therefore out of mind. There is a difference between saying mean words on social media and terrorizing a whole family. It is important for Mr. Mason to understand how his actions impacted myself and my whole family,” said VanEnkevort in a statement at the start of Mason’s sentencing.

VanEnkevort spoke about the stress affecting her while caring for a newborn and the impact on her older daughter.

“Watching my windows became an unwelcome habit, that made me feel both paranoid and distracted from where my attention should have been,” she said.

She said that her husband worked to reassure her and their daughter by installing more than $1,500 worth of security measures.

VanEnkevort ended her statement by saying many men and women reached out to her because they had also experienced harassment and abuse.

“They suffered from Mr. Mason as well, they were grateful for his finally being unmasked and hope that this is an end to a barrage of harassment. I was not Mr. Mason’s first victim, my hope is that the justice system will ensure I am the last,” VanEnkevort said.

Steinhoff said the court should make an example out of Mason for his political harassment.

“This political, I guess harassment and persecution is kind of the endemic in Delta County right now and that I think that’s very unfortunate because it’s certainly not reflective of the people of Delta County,” Steinhoff said.

“I think that this is a type of case where an example needs to be made. Something needs to be done here to show the community that this kind of crap will not be tolerated by justice system in Delta County,” he continued.

Attorney for Mason, Trent Stupak said that Mason understands this is his fault as well as the magnitude of his actions.

“Mr. Mason clearly has acknowledged fault in this and clearly understands the repercussions that typing on a keyboard can make,” Stupak said.

Mason then addressed the court, apologizing for his actions.

“I’d like to apologize to the victims for all the chaos I created,” Mason said.

“It won’t happen again.”

Judge Parks then addressed Mason, saying he has no doubt that Mason has an alcohol problem and that it was a component of his actions. However, Parks said that the fact that Mason was drunk at the time “certainly doesn’t provide any comfort to her (VanEnkevort) from the time that she was subjected to what you were doing.”

Parks said that Mason needed to be on a short leash and held accountable for his sobriety. He ordered that Mason be on probation for 24 months, not to use alcohol or go to a places where the primary focus is the sale of alcohol, and is subject to random drug testing. He is also prohibited from having contact with VanEnkevort and must stay at least 1,000 feet from her residence.

The judge also ordered Mason to write an apology letter addressing all the people he had inappropriate and offensive contact with on the internet.

“I expect a heartfelt a letter from you. We’ll figure out a way to post it so that members of the community can see it,” Parks said.

Additionally, Mason will have to attend substance abuse counseling and provide access to his devices. Mason is also prohibited from utilizing any social media platforms and required to complete 120 hours of community service by Jan. 30.

Mason was sentenced to 150 days in the Delta County Jail, with credit for 27 days already served. Sixty-three of those days were suspended by the judge who said he would “hold it over your (Mason) head to ensure compliance.”

Mason will have to report to the Delta County Jail on July 14 by 8 p.m.

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