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Pasadena Man Sentenced to Over 3 Years in Prison for Cyberstalking

Published on Monday, November 15, 2021 | 3:15 pm

A British national who lived in Pasadena was sentenced Monday to 37 months in federal prison for making a series of graphic online threats to harm, rape and kill.

Sam Hughes, 33, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer, who described his conduct as “horrendous,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Hughes pleaded guilty in October of last year to one federal count each of stalking, witness tampering and making threats by interstate communication.

From May 2019 to June 2020, Hughes stalked and sent anonymous threatening communications to multiple victims, according to court documents. For example, in October 2019, after one victim reported prior threats from Hughes to law enforcement authorities, Hughes sent the victim an email stating in part: “someone I can guarantee will come out and first bash you(r) head in, rape you slash your throat and burn your car and house,” according to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court.

Hughes’ conduct often followed a pattern. He would meet a victim — usually a woman — at a networking event or through his employment. After the event or after having been employed for a period, he would communicate with the victim from an email or social media account, seeking further social interaction with the victim or inviting the victim to meet him at a future date in a one-on-one setting.

When the victim would fail to reciprocate his desire for further social interaction and indicate that she or he no longer wished to interact with him, Hughes would then send anonymous threats to the victim, often from anonymous online accounts he created to disguise his identity.

He sent the threatening communications via numerous email and social media accounts, as well as through the U.S. mail. The messages sent to the victims were direct, graphic and disturbing in nature, and they contained threats to injure, rape and kill victims.

After being contacted by both federal and state law enforcement officers on multiple occasions regarding the threatening communications, Hughes continued to send electronic communications and letters threatening to injure, rape and kill victims who had reported his threats to law enforcement. In his communications to some victims, Hughes threatened that contacting the police would lead to the injury or death of the victim or the victim’s family members.

Hughes “used his computer skills to terrorize these victims and their families with harassment and death threats from anonymized accounts,” federal prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum.

“His use of anonymizing techniques and planning allowed him to avoid identification — and punishment — for months while he continued his online harassment campaigns. (Hughes’) conduct traumatized the victims, putting many in fear for their lives and the lives of family members. Some feared going to work or even leaving their homes.”

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