During the trial, each of the three took the stand and detailed the effects of being accused of crimes such as drug dealing, money laundering and gun running. Gill played out the accusations on a radio show, electronic billboards in high traffic areas such as South Willow Street, and social media that logged views in the thousands, sometimes millions.
“This was never about the money,” said Anagnost. Gill went after politicans, judges and people without the resources to fight back, Anagnost said. But he and his co-plaintiffs could afford the fight, and the verdict saves future victims from any slanders by Gill, Anagnost said.
All three said most of the money they collect will go to charity.
Both Anagnost and Crews said the verdict could have far reaching effect in the world of social media. Crews hopes the allegations will change the social media habits of someone who accuses people of crimes.
“As a Marine Corps vet I’m very serious about First Amendment rights, I believe in them, but I also believe that as a human being, the Golden Rule should come first,” Crews said. Everyone has the responsibility to not make false accusations they can’t back up, he said.
A judge has already ordered that the electricity be cut to Gill’s electronic billboards, and Pulse 107.7 has halted Gill’s paid radio program. Next up, Anagnost said, lawyer Steve Gordon will seek an injunction ordering Facebook and Twitter to darken Gill’s accounts.
“We become the aggressor now,” Anagnost said.
Update: Jury awards businessmen defamed by Michael Gill $274.5 million, most in NH history | New Hampshire