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Man claims to be target of smear campaign

10-5-2006 Illinois:
NORMAL -- Mark Bronke said someone has been distributing fliers in mailboxes in his neighborhood and falsely accusing him of being a "child predator."

Bronke, supervisor of the Peoria County Juvenile Detention Center, said someone has targeted him for vandalism in the past. Vandals using eggs and spray paint caused about $7,000 worth of damage in February to his house on Blue Bird Street in Normal, he said.

But the latest incident goes beyond his neighborhood, he said. People as far as two miles away have gotten them, and postal officials contacted him after the fliers began appearing in town Aug. 28, he said.

Bronke said all his neighbors received copies, and about a half-dozen people he doesn't know have called his house.

"Three were angry community residents that were wanting to know who I was and what all this was about, and I had to explain them that I was kind of being targeted and I believe that I was a victim," Bronke said. "And one person yelled a few obscenities and I just ended up hanging up on that person."

That person also said words to the effect of, "You better not show yourself in the neighborhood," he said. The fliers include a picture of Bronke, his address and his phone number.

Bronke is not listed on the Illinois State Police's online sex offender database. And he said he has never been accused of such impropriety against children.

"I've worked in probation in McLean County and in court services and probation in Peoria County for the last 18 years," Bronke said. "We are subject to background checks before we are hired."

Police said a report taken in the incident did not say how many fliers were distributed. Postal Inspector Brian Eastman said he looked into the matter, but the only federal violation would be a misdemeanor offense of placing items not to be mailed in mailboxes.

Last week, Bronke received a call about a mutual acquaintance who lives two miles away from him receiving one of the letters.

Bronke said the materials have angered his family, and he hopes to find out who is behind the fliers. He said he talked to the Pantagraph in hopes someone would read his story and call police with information.

But unless that happens, his only clue is a dark-colored Pontiac sedan his wife saw stopping at mailboxes one night in late August, he said. ..more.. by Greg Cima

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