A real-life man who cried wolf pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that he prank called 911 more than 330 times over a 20 month period. Anthony Lloyd, 49, faces a 28-count indictment of making false bomb and anthrax reports against a city Human Resources Administration building in Harlem. And Lloyd was only caught after he made an actual legitimate call to 911 last month.
But it took a whole unit and high-tech satellite tracking technology just to find Lloyd. According to the Wall Street Journal, police are sent on more than 13,000 emergency runs calls a day via 911 in NYC. In February, Lt. Fred Grover noticed there had been a spike in phony 911 calls placed in Upper Manhattan and made it a priority of the Incident Notification Response Unit (INRU) to figure out why. The caller, who became known as "Grover's guy," was using a phone from a long-discontinued account, which wasn't registered to anyone but still had 911 capabilities. When emergency calls were placed from this phone, a series of numbers came up on police computers instead of a phone number.
Listening back to old tapes, police discovered calls from "Grover's guy" going back to October 2008, thanks to his "pretty distinctive voice." The 911 system recorded the longitude and latitude coordinates of the cellphone signals, and the cops plotted them on a map, along with the locations where the officers were being told the fake emergencies were taking place.
Twenty-eight of the calls reported bomb or anthrax threats at one of the HRA's buildings in Harlem, but no other discernible patterns emerged. "In essence, it was only a matter of waiting for the individual to screw up," said Capt. Maximo Tolentino, INRU's commander. Finally, on July 10, Lloyd called to report workers making noise in his building at 117 W. 138th Street, and an officer recognized the caller as "Grover's guy."