A former deputy U.S. marshal from Brea, California, was convicted Thursday of framing his ex-girlfriend for sexual assault reportedly to gain control of a condo they purchased together in Anaheim, the Department of Justice said.
Diaz was convicted of conspiracy to commit cyberstalking, cyberstalking perjury and obstruction of justice. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Diaz, Wife Created Fake Online Profile to Send Threatening Messages to Themselves
Michelle Hadley spent almost three months in jail because of the scheme that Diaz, 44, operated with his then-wife, Angela Diaz, prosecutors said.
They created a fake online persona in Hadley's name and sent themselves harassing and threatening messages. The couple tried to conceal their scheme using fake email accounts, virtual private networks and communicating with each other on encrypted messaging apps.
"You deserve nothing but a life of lonely torture," read one such email, detailed in a BuzzFeed article in which Hadley shared her story. "I have ways to hurt you. There is no place you will be safe anymore."
"You might be beautiful, you might be the one he married but you are still a sinner and must be punished," read another. "I will make sure you are reminded of your place, by force."
Rape Fantasy Ad Posted on Craigslist to Frame Hadley
The Diaz's used one of Hadley's many fake profiles to post ads on Craigslist seeking a "rape fantasy" partner for Angela. They posted personal ads inviting interested parties to come to the condo and engage in the sexual fantasy with Angela in an attempt to "stage a non-consensual sexual assault on [Angela] with the other party believing that the sexual encounter would be consensual."
The same day, Diaz communicated with at least one potential participant before calling the police. The indictment states that the couple told the cops they were scared for their safety, insisting that Hadley was behind the harassment.
"At what point does this girl get arrested for sending this shit and hiring guys off Craigslist to rape [Angela Diaz]," Diaz told police in an interview. The following day, Diaz texted another Craigslist user in an attempt to lure him to the condo to further prove that Hadley needs to be behind bars.
The Diazes also allegedly "staged one or more hoax sexual assaults and hoax attempted sexual assaults," including one false alarm in which Angela called 911 to report that she had been sexually assaulted in her garage by one of the men and even she had red marks on her neck and breast to make the false assault look real, eventually leading to Hadley's arrest. Hadley was charged, and held in jail for nearly three months.
Diaz Tried to Frame Hadley Over Property Dispute
According to prosecutors, Hadley and Diaz were involved in a property dispute over a condo in Anaheim when they were dating in June 2015 and that's when the Diaz's plotted to "harass and intimidate her." Hadley was facing life imprisonment for the dozen sex crime felonies she was accused of committing but was later exonerated of the crimes.
Hadley was exonerated by Orange County prosecutors and all charges against her were dismissed. Had the case gone to trial, she faced life in prison if convicted.
Two years after Angela's arrest, Hadley filed a suit against the city of Anaheim, the Anaheim Police Department, and the Diazes, alleging officers initially ignored a mountain of evidence that showed the couple was framing her (The city settled the suit for an undisclosed amount.)
Diaz Threw Angela Under the Bus After Getting Caught
When the conspiracy to frame Hadley began to unravel in late 2016, Diaz threw his then-wife under the bus, stating she was "solely responsible for framing [Hadley]," the indictment says. He attempted to conceal his involvement in the scheme by deleting personal email accounts and changed his cellphone number, prosecutors said.
Angela was sentenced to five years in state prison after pleading guilty in October 2017 to 10 felony and 22 misdemeanor charges, including kidnapping, false imprisonment and falsely reporting a crime to a peace officer, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.
Diaz and Angela have since divorced. Diaz's sentencing has been scheduled for June 30.