Former Employee of House Member Sentenced to Prison Term on Charges in Cyberstalking Case
WASHINGTON –A former staff employee of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives was sentenced today to serve a year and a day in prison for the circulation of private, nude images and videos of the member and the member’s spouse, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Matthew R. Verderosa, Chief of the United States Capitol Police.
Juan R. McCullum, 36, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty in January 2018 to two federal cyber-related charges and two District of Columbia offenses, including conspiracy to disclose sexual images and attempted first-degree unlawful publication of a sexual image. He was sentenced by the Honorable John D. Bates in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
McCullum’s plea, which was contingent upon the Court’s approval, called for an agreed-upon sentence of one year and 361 days of incarceration, with all but one year and a day suspended on the condition that he successfully completes two years of supervised probation. During his probation, McCullum will be required to perform 100 hours of community service. Judge Bates accepted the plea and sentenced McCullum accordingly.
A co-defendant, Dorene Browne-Louis, 45, of Upper Marlboro, Md., pled guilty in January 2018 to one federal cyber charge and the District of Columbia offense of conspiracy to disclose sexual images. She is to be sentenced on April 23, 2018.
According to statements of offense filed as part of the defendants’ guilty pleas, McCullum worked from April 2015 until June 2016 in the House member’s legislative office in Washington, D.C. Browne-Louis worked in the same office from January 2015 until April 2016.
According to the documents, during the course of his employment, McCullum offered in March 2016 to assist the House member in repairing the member’s malfunctioning, password-protected iPhone by taking the device to a local Apple store. The House member provided McCullum with the device solely to have it repaired. The House member later provided the password so that the device could be unlocked by the Apple store solely for the purpose of having the iPhone repaired. McCullum was not given permission to take, copy, or distribute any of the contents of the iPhone. The iPhone contained the private, nude images and videos.
In July 2016, the documents state, after McCullum left the House member’s staff, he engaged in a course of conduct that included creating a Hotmail account and a Facebook social media account, using a fictitious name, to distribute and post the private, nude images and videos. In addition, he made Browne-Louis aware that he was in possession of the images from the iPhone. Further, McCullum encouraged others on social media to redistribute the private, nude images and videos in the member’s congressional district. Browne-Louis assisted by providing McCullum with e-mail addresses and other contact information to distribute the images. Browne-Louis also distributed one of the private, nude images to a person who was working on the campaign of a challenger to the member’s primary election. McCullum and Browne-Louis understood their actions did cause, and were likely to cause, emotional harm to the House member and spouse, as well as negative impact on the member’s re-election, the plea documents state.
Both defendants were indicted in July 2017 following an investigation by the United States Capitol Police.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu and Chief Verderosa commended the work of those who investigated the case from the United States Capitol Police. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who assisted with the case at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including former Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalia Medina, Criminal Investigator John Marsh, Paralegal Specialists Bianca Evans, Diane Brashears, and Matthew Ruggiero, Victim/Witness Advocate Yvonne Bryant, and Litigation Technology Specialists Leif Hickling, Thomas Royal, and Paul Howell. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tejpal S. Chawla, Youli Lee, and Veronica Jennings, who investigated and prosecuted the case.