A self-described internet troll who goes by the name Plainpotatoess allegedly cost Baltimore businesses hundreds of dollars each and used a variety of bizarre tactics while filming individuals for his popular social media accounts, according to charging documents.
Marquel Carter, 20, of the 2400 block of E. Madison St., was charged last month with 20 counts of trespassing, six counts related to harassment and one count of second-degree assault — all of which stem from incidents that allegedly occurred while he was making videos for his viral Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts under the name Plainpotatoess.
Carter, a Baltimore resident, describes “Plainpotatoess” as a persona he used to provoke people, usually through insults, while he recorded the exchanges. In February, he called his critics sensitive and defended his videos, before apologizing and stating he had not realized people were seriously bothered by his actions.
Last week, a judge ordered Carter to stay away from the alleged victims named in court records until his trial dates scheduled throughout April and May. The judge also mandated Carter to refrain from posting about those businesses and individuals to social media.
Carter’s attorney Cal Stafilatos declined to comment on his legal strategy for fighting the charges, but said the case was primarily a freedom-of-speech issue. He compared the “Plainpotatoess” brand of humor to the kind featured in the film “Borat” and the reality television show “Impractical Jokers.”
“Unfortunately, some people’s feelings were hurt,” Stafilatos said. “But should he go to jail for that? I don’t think so.”
Charging documents describe an unusual pattern of behavior in the months leading up to Carter’s legal troubles.
Several local businesses told investigators they each lost hundreds of dollars after Carter allegedly visited their establishments.
Employees at Brothers Sushi in Mount Vernon told police Carter backed into a door while being asked to leave, shattering a window pane valued at $200. City Café staffers told police that a wedding party was so distraught after Carter allegedly crashed their rehearsal dinner, the restaurant comped their bill for more than $500. And Blue Agave Restaurante y Tequileria lost hundreds of dollars after Carter allegedly told his followers to prank call the restaurant. The business received numerous fake pickup orders for several weeks after the incident, charging documents said.
Individuals also described to police examples of strange and racist behavior Carter allegedly used to provoke them while he filmed the interactions.
Police say Carter allegedly used racist insults to describe a restaurant manager’s nationality while chewing a raw onion and spitting the pieces into a bag. Others reported Carter allegedly attempted to hug and kiss them without permission, and in one case he allegedly kissed a man on his face, according to charging documents.
Officials alleged that Carter twice talked about rape to provoke reaction. In one instance he did so before pulling out an opened condom and in another he produced what appeared to be a used feminine hygiene product from his groin area, the charging documents said.
An incident in which Carter allegedly kissed a man resulted in his lone assault charge, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Carter has a jury trial scheduled for the assault charge in April, with the rest of the charges scheduled in May.
Social media can have a strong influence on young people, Stafilatos said.
“In this day and age, with social media, sometimes it places a burden on these young individuals to make a name for themselves and obtain followers,” he said. “We have to be careful of going too far in that aspect and looking at things from a human perspective as opposed to a social perspective.”
Carter told The Baltimore Sun in February that he plans to move away from that brand of content. He also said he regretted some of the decisions he made as “Plainpotatoess” and that there was no one to blame for the charges but himself.