Archive for Friday, December 21, 2007

Hoax calls traced to Chicago

December 21, 2007

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An employee from a Chicago-based executive search firm is the registered owner of a cell phone used Wednesday night to make hoax calls to the Lawrence Journal-World.

The phone was used to report inaccurately that KU football coach Mark Mangino was a candidate for the West Virginia football coach job.

That employee, Jacky Hackett, is listed as a technology manager for recruitment firm Spencer Stuart. Spencer Stuart recruits executives to companies and was responsible for identifying candidates for the Green Bay Packers' CEO position.

Through a Spencer Stuart spokesman, Hackett said she had no idea how a number associated with her name could have been used in those calls. A Spencer Stuart representative said that none of the numbers used in the calls belonged to the company and that it knew nothing of the calls.

The hoax phone calls were placed to Ryan Wood, the Journal-World's KU football reporter. In the calls, Wood was made to believe that Mangino was in serious negotiations to leave KU for West Virginia. That turned out to be false.

In addition to talking to a man who identified himself as Mangino's agent, Neil Cornrich, Wood spoke to someone who identified himself using the name of a reporter for a West Virginia newspaper. That person said he was working on a story that Mangino's agent had spoken with the West Virginia athletic director and asked for help confirming that. The person posing as a reporter called the Journal-World newsroom and said he could be reached at the cell phone number registered to Hackett.

A total of three phone numbers were involved in the calls to Wood. One was used by the person posing as the reporter; the other two were used by the man posing as Mangino's agent. All are unlisted cell phones. But through a database search, Hackett's name was tied to one of the phone numbers.

About 20 minutes after posting a statement alleged to be from Cornrich, Wood realized the person he had spoken to was not credible, and the inaccurate information was removed from the Journal-World Web site.

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