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Press Release

Former Laguna Niguel Resident Indicted for Allegedly Threatening to Kill Orange County Family Law Judge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – A former Orange County resident has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly threatening to kill a superior court judge who presided over his family law case, the Justice Department announced today.

Byrom Zuniga Sanchez, 32, formerly of Laguna Niguel, but whose most recent residence was in Morella, Mexico, is charged in an indictment returned Friday with two counts of threats by interstate and foreign communication.

Zuniga was arrested February 27 in San Diego and remains in federal custody there. His arraignment is expected to occur in the coming weeks in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

“There has been a troubling increase in threats against public servants, including judicial officers,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “These threats undermine the rule of law, are anathema in our democracy, and will not be tolerated. As such, my office will continue to aggressively prosecute all such violent criminal conduct.”

“The chilling threats allegedly made by Zuniga Sanchez via e-mail and online caused profound fear for many people in the legal and law enforcement community, and forced some to take extra security precautions,” said Amir Ehsaei, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The FBI and our partners take such threats extremely seriously so that judges and others who make difficult decisions every day don’t suffer needlessly for simply carrying out their duties.”

According to court documents previously filed in this case, from May 2023 to July 2023, Zuniga sent multiple death threats via email to the victim judge. Zuniga allegedly also threatened to kill or harm others, including other judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officials.

For example, in July 2023, Zuniga allegedly emailed the victim judge’s former courtroom, “I am more committed to murdering you than I am to being present as a father.”

In the same email, Zuniga allegedly also wrote, “You’re already dead. The remainder of my life will be dedicated to assassinating judges, attorneys, and a police station’s entire shift staff.”

In September 2023, Zuniga allegedly posted on his Instagram account, “With access to a weapon, it is easier for me to walk into a courthouse and indiscriminately assasinate [sic] because I notified lawyers and judges.” This statement was directed at the courthouse in Orange where he had been involved in family law proceedings from 2019 to 2021. Zuniga also allegedly in October 2023 threatened to conduct an active shooting at the same courthouse.

These communications were sent via interstate commerce, and law enforcement believes Zuniga was in Mexico when he sent the threatening messages. Zuniga was arrested last week after attempting to enter the United States.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

If convicted, Zuniga would face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for each count.

The FBI is investigating this matter.

Assistant United States Attorney J’me K. Forrest of the Violent and Organized Crime Section is prosecuting this case.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated March 11, 2024

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 24-056