A Deputy U.S. Marshal was indicted this week for allegedly orchestrating a wild scheme with his then-wife to frame an innocent ex-girlfriend as a rape predator and have her thrown in jail for months.
Ian R. Diaz, a 43-year-old from Brea, California, was hit with a slew of charges on Wednesday, including conspiracy to commit cyberstalking, the Department of Justice said in a Friday news release.
Prosecutors allege that Ian and Angela Maria Diaz, who has not been indicted but is named a co-conspirator, created a fake online persona for Ian’s ex-girlfriend Michelle Hadley in 2016, and used it to send themselves “harassing and threatening” messages and post online ads inviting people to engage in “rape fantasies” against Angela.
The newly unsealed indictment alleges the pair even used the profiles to set up a fake sexual assault on Angela Diaz, and then tried to conceal their bizarre scheme by using a fake email account, virtual private networks, and even talking to each other on encrypted messaging apps.
“Diaz and his then-wife then reported this conduct to local law enforcement, falsely claiming that [Hadley] posed a genuine and serious threat to Diaz and his then-wife,” the news release said.
Local officials arrested Hadley at the time and detained her in jail “for nearly three months for conduct for which they framed her and in fact perpetrated themselves.”
The scheme seemed to quickly fall apart after Hadley’s arrest. While the indictment doesn’t detail how the ruse came to light, Angela Diaz, 32, was arrested in 2016. She was later sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple charges. (It is not immediately clear why it took another four years for Ian Diaz to be indicted.)
Two years later, Hadley sued 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. Wednesday’s indictment also charges Diaz with perjuring himself in a 2019 deposition for the lawsuit. (The city settled the suit for an undisclosed amount last month.)
“Almost five years ago our client reported that her ex-boyfriend was stalking and impersonating her online,” Maggie McLetchie and Carrie Goldberg, who represented Hadley in her civil suit, said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “Instead, it was our client who was arrested after her ex and his wife framed her in an elaborate, but shoddily executed plot. The most basic competence with digital evidence and intimate partner violence would have revealed to Anaheim police officers that she was being framed.”
While Hadley was exonerated of the “dozen sex crime felonies” she was accused of, “her ex was never held accountable until today,” they said.
“It was our client’s bravery and diligence in bringing her civil suit...that exposed the holes in Anaheim’s investigation and the cover-up of the cover-up. Let this be a lesson to all abusers—the law will catch up to you. Even if you are a law enforcer.”
According to Diaz’s indictment, he and Hadley—who is identified as “Jane Doe” in the filing but who later identified herself in a BuzzFeed story and the civil suit—jointly bought a condo in Anaheim when they were dating in June 2015 but they broke up two months later. Despite Hadley financing the down payment, she moved out and, by January, Diaz was living there with his new fiancée.
Prosecutors state Hadley and Diaz were in the middle of an “ongoing dispute” over the condo when the plot to “harass and intimidate her” by framing her took shape. Diaz wanted, in part, to dissuade her from kicking him out of the condo, the indictment says.
The Diazes allegedly created online accounts using fake names—some using Hadley’s name or variations of it, prosecutors state. The couple, who had by now married, then sent themselves harassing and threatening emails—several of which “contained express or implied threats to harm” Angela.
Some of those messages, the indictment says, contained “threatening language and photos of dead fetuses.”
The indictment says that, on June 13, 2016, the Diazes also posted personal ads on Craigslist seeking people to come to the condo “and engage in a ‘rape fantasy’” with Angela. Their hope was “to stage a non-consensual sexual assault on [Angela] with the other party believing that the sexual encounter would be consensual.”
That same day, Ian Diaz communicated with at least one potential participant—then called the police. The indictment states that the couple told the cops they were scared for their safety, insisting that Hadley was harassing them and “needs to be in fucking cuffs and in a padded room.”
Ian Diaz told local police that he “investigates threats made to federal judges and prosecutors as part of his work as a Deputy United States Marshal and that he has ‘never seen anything like this,’” the indictment states.
“At what point does this girl get arrested for sending this shit and hiring guys off Craigslist to rape [Angela Diaz],” Ian Diaz told police in another interview. He urged officers to arrest her, saying she was “hiding out” at her parent’s house.
The next day, the indictment states, Ian Diaz allegedly texted another Craigslist user in an attempt to lure him to the condo to further prove Hadley should be arrested.
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’d been sexually assaulted outside the condo and Hadley was responsible, causing Hadley to be arrested.
According to news reports about Angela Diaz’s case, she had red marks on her neck and breast to make the false assault look real.
Even after initial Hadley’s arrest, the Diazes kept posting “rape fantasy” ads on Craigslist. Ian even used his personal cell phone to “authenticate and approve” one of the posts, then canceled his cell service the next day, the indictment states.
Hadley was reportedly released on a $100,000 bond but was arrested again in July, 2016, and remained in custody until about October. Authorities eventually dropped the charges when an investigation proved Hadley was not involved.
To conceal their plan, Ian Diaz allegedly created another email address for a different former girlfriend to communicate in secret with Angela. He even used that account on “his work cell phone assigned to him by the United States Marshals Service,” prosecutors say.
When the conspiracy 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.
“Diaz represented to local law enforcement officials that he initially became suspicious of [his wife] in or about early August 2016, when he received emails from the account he in fact created on July 31, 2016, and that he previously accessed using his work phone,” the indictment states. The indictment does not say if the Diazes divorced but refers to Angela as Ian’s then-wife.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, the U.S. Marshals Service said they are “aware of the arrest and indictment of Deputy U.S. Marshal Ian R. Diaz” and are “cooperating fully with the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General’s investigation of the matter.”
“We take seriously any allegation of misconduct by our personnel. The alleged actions of this employee do not reflect the core values of the U.S. Marshals Service, and Diaz has been relieved of his operational duties and placed on administrative leave,” the statement added.
An attorney for Diaz did not immediately respond for comment.