WASHINGTON (AP) — A deputy U.S. marshal was charged in a cyberstalking scheme that authorities said he perpetuated with his ex-wife to have a former lover thrown in jail, the Justice Department said Friday.
Ian Diaz, 43, is accused of working with his then-wife to create fake online profiles in 2016 to pose as a woman with whom Diaz had previously been in a relationship, according to federal prosecutors. The couple used the phony accounts, posing as the former lover, to send themselves threatening and harassing messages, including threats to harm Diaz’s wife, prosecutors allege.
The couple also posted advertisements on Craigslist in an attempt to lure men to be part of so-called “rape fantasies,” prosecutors said. The posts directed them to come to the Diaz’s home in Anaheim, California, in what prosecutors say was an attempt to stage a sexual assault of Diaz’s former wife and then blame the ads on his ex-lover.
Prosecutors say the two had “staged one or more hoax sexual assaults and hoax attempted sexual assaults.” They then called the police and asked that officers arrest the former lover, showing investigators the emails and saying they were written by the woman, according to court documents.
The couple reported the threats and postings — that prosecutors say they made themselves — to local law enforcement officers. Diaz’s former lover was arrested and charged with making the threats and was held in jail for almost three months “for conduct for which they framed her and in fact perpetrated themselves,” prosecutors allege.
Ian Diaz was arrested Thursday after being charged with cyberstalking, conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and perjury. An attorney who represented him in a related civil case did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. His former wife was not charged in the indictment.
The couple tried to conceal their actions using virtual private networks and encrypted messaging services, according to the indictment.
Diaz, who has worked as a criminal investigator since 2010 in Los Angeles, has been placed on administrative leave and relieved of his duties, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement.
“We take seriously any allegation of misconduct by our personnel,” the statement said. “The alleged actions of this employee do not reflect the core values of the U.S. Marshals Service.”