Was a U.S. marshal involved in a Gone Girl-style plot to put an ex in jail? Attorneys for Angela Diaz—a California woman who was married to the lawman and is charged with framing his ex-girlfriend using “rape fantasy” ads—claim he likely had a hand in the wicked scheme.
Police say Diaz orchestrated a setup against Michelle Hadley by sending herself ominous emails in Hadley’s name—and claiming men attacked her because Hadley was impersonating her in the “rape fantasy” posts on Craigslist.
Hadley, a 30-year-old MBA student, spent nearly three months in jail as a result of the scheme before she was exonerated. The twisted case grabbed national headlines and got the Dateline treatment earlier this year.
Now a lawyer for Angela Diaz says the husband, a U.S. marshal named Ian Diaz, had the motive and opportunity to devise the diabolical scheme.
“We hope to show that it’s not as obvious as the people would have us believe as to who is responsible for this scenario,” Allison Margolin, one of Angela Diaz’s lawyers, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday.
While Ian Diaz has never spoken publicly about the alleged frame-up, he allegedly told police that he was innocent. Anaheim Det. Michael Cunha testified that during his investigation, Diaz denied sending sinister emails to Angela Diaz or creating the Craigslist ads.
Margolin says Ian Diaz’s only alibi is “based on records he created himself.”
She was referring to an Anaheim detective’s testimony this week that Ian Diaz’s work hours proved he wasn’t home when someone sent a barrage of bizarre and threatening emails from the condo where he and Angela lived.
Cunha testified that the U.S. marshal’s time sheets prompted cops to pursue Angela instead of Ian as a suspect.
But Ian Diaz was only required to self-report his hours at the end of each pay period, and his supervisors didn’t routinely check over employees’ time cards, Cunha acknowledged under questioning by Margolin.
“They’re all big boys and they’re responsible for their hours,” Cunha recalled a U.S. Marshals Service supervisor telling him.
To Margolin, that was proof cops should have further investigated Ian Diaz.
“Until today, we had this idea that Ian’s work schedule was somehow corroborated by or confirmed by the marshals,” Margolin later told The Daily Beast. “And then only upon cross-examination did we find out… that these people are making their own schedules and there’s no corroboration for them.
“We just hope to basically expose some of the assumptions that the DA’s been making in order to try to have a nice ending to a situation that was obviously very screwed up,” Margolin added.
On the stand, Cunha conceded that he didn’t check video cameras at the courthouse where Ian Diaz was stationed to see if he was actually there. He acknowledged, too, that Ian Diaz sent him an email during a period when he was supposedly at work and not around a computer.
Suggestions of the U.S. marshal’s possible involvement were just one more wild turn in a case that’s featured claims of Angela Diaz faking cervical cancer and pretending to be pregnant using prank sonograms purchased on Etsy.com.
Where It Began
One year ago, Angela Diaz was considered a victim—not a suspect.
Back in July 2016, Orange County prosecutors issued a press release after Hadley’s arrest, alleging that she harassed Angela Diaz and solicited “rape fantasies” on Craigslist using her name and address. Then a 29-year-old MBA student, Hadley faced life in prison for charges including six counts of forcible rape.
Six months later, the DA announced Hadley was innocent. He said Angela Diaz, who’d called police repeatedly about strange men turning up at her residence and even called 911 claiming a man attacked her in her garage, was now their main suspect.
Police did not charge Ian Diaz as part of the alleged scheme and never appeared to consider him a conspirator.
As The Daily Beast previously revealed, Ian and Angela Diaz met in January 2016 and married one month later. By that September, their relationship had unraveled and Ian Diaz filed a petition for a marriage annulment based on fraud.
In court papers, Ian Diaz claimed that Angela had been “lying at the pathological level.” At one point, Ian Diaz said, he discovered a box of pregnancy tests—altered with pen to make it appear the results were positive when Angela wasn’t pregnant.
Yet Angela Diaz’s defense team has hinted that Ian Diaz was far from a virtuous law-enforcement officer or oblivious husband during their seven-month marriage.
Margolin said “it was more convenient for the prosecution to wrap this up as an Angela-only scenario than to pursue more with the marshals.”
Her co-counsel, Tom McMahon, told The Daily Beast that Ian Diaz’s work as a criminal investigator for the U.S. Marshals Service should raise eyebrows. “He has expertise in setting up fake accounts and sting operations… and understands how criminals can use [virtual private networks] to hide,” McMahon said.
On Monday, Margolin cross-examined Det. Cunha about Ian Diaz’s own plans to catch his wife’s alleged “rape fantasy” attackers.
At first, Ian Diaz appeared to suspect Angela was behind the Craigslist posts, Cunha testified. “He was very paranoid,” Cunha said. “He had his doubts. Then he came to the conclusion that she had not” solicited the men. The U.S. marshal’s plan, Cunha testified, was then to arrest someone himself.
Cunha said he had become annoyed by Ian Diaz’s interference in the probe and that the marshal had apologized.
Still, Ian Diaz quickly tried to implicate Hadley in the alleged Craigslist rape conspiracy, Cunha said. “He informed me about the ad and his suspicions about Ms. Hadley having placed it,” the detective testified.
Eventually, Cunha got a search warrant for the Craigslist posts at the center of Hadley’s case.
One of the bogus email accounts allegedly created by Angela Diaz was Lilithistruth@outlook.com, which she allegedly used to send messages to herself that threatened her life and that of her unborn child. (Prosecutors say Angela Diaz actually faked her pregnancy and lied to police about expecting a baby.)
“You will lose your baby and it will be done by will of god,” one email warned, before signing off with: “God’s vengeance will rise up, Michelle.” Another email said, “You will be raped and kidnapped today.”
According to Margolin, Anaheim cops never found evidence that Angela Diaz created that email account.
Margolin pointed out that Ian Diaz acknowledged having an app called Hotspot Shield on his phone, which can hide IP addresses. (Cunha testified that he never found this phone app when searching Ian Diaz’s device.)
The attorney theorized that Ian Diaz ran and created the Lilithistruth email account, but Cunha would not go so far. “I have no evidence of that,” the cop testified.
Margolin further claimed that Angela Diaz couldn’t have sent the Lilithistruth emails because they contained information to which she wasn’t privy.
One email noted a potential $5,000 settlement over the condominium that Ian Diaz and Hadley once owned together. At the time, Ian and Angela Diaz were living at the property, while Ian and Hadley fought over it in court.
Ian Diaz forwarded Cunha emails from Lilithistruth and said no one knew about the potential settlement, save for him, Hadley, and their attorneys.
One of those emails had the subject line “Rape Toy,” while another read, “Come over and rape me,” Cunha testified.
When Margolin asked Cunha if he was able to examine Ian Diaz’s phone, Cunha said he did not because “his mother now has the phone and she lives in Idaho.” This revelation prompted the Orange County judge to ask, “Did his mama take it away from him?” In response, Cunha testified that Diaz’s mother simply needed a new phone.
On Tuesday, Margolin said email records showed that someone logged into one phony account at the couple’s condo on May 24 and May 26, 2016. But because Angela Diaz took a flight to Arizona for her grandfather’s funeral, departing May 25 and returning May 28, she was likely not the person who logged in.
In response, prosecutors said the incriminating emails were sent before Angela Diaz’s flight; the emails sent after she left were traced back to a cellphone, but they couldn’t identify a specific location. One email was connected to a virtual private network.
A Tangled History With an Ex
This week’s testimony also included allegations that Hadley had post-traumatic stress disorder from an abusive relationship with Ian Diaz.
Hadley said that her former beau used to snoop through her computers and kept copies of her computer files, Cunha testified. (According to Cunha, Ian Diaz later admitted to this claim.)
She also accused Ian Diaz of tracking the miles on her car with a device because he didn’t believe that she was going to work, Cunha said.
After they broke up in late 2015, Ian Diaz allegedly emailed Hadley pornographic material, Cunha testified.
The detective added that Hadley blamed her PTSD, in part, on Ian Diaz’s requests that they have a threesome with another man.
Ian Diaz allegedly made similar propositions with his new wife.
Emails between Ian and Angela Diaz, from the summer of 2016, show that he asked her to participate in sexual encounters with him and another man, Cunha said.
According to emails found on Angela’s phone, Angela “said she would do anything for him and she was okay with it if he was,” Cunha testified.
In August 2016, someone named “Lacey” sent a mysterious email to a Daily Beast reporter claiming that she had dated Ian Diaz and that Angela Diaz was a victim of her own husband, too. (When asked to confirm her identity, Lacey stopped responding.)
“She was attacked, almost raped and stalked, yet this man continually contacts other women and has really no business doing that,” the email said. “Angela is a really pretty nice girl and has been a victim of not only Michelle, but her cheating hubby.”
The email included a professional photo of Angela and Ian together, as well as a photo of Angela and her mother.
“I have these pictures so you can see for yourself how she is,” the sender concluded. “The media needs to investigate this.”
On Tuesday, an Anaheim investigator testified that Detective Cunha received similar emails from the same “Lacey.” While Lacey is a real person, her name was misspelled in the fake email account, the officer said. Police interviewed the woman, who said she had no idea someone was sending messages using her identity.