Two Former Employees of House Member Plead Guilty to Charges in Cyberstalking Case
WASHINGTON – Two former staff employees of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives pled guilty today to charges stemming from 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., and Dorene Browne-Louis, 45, of Upper Marlboro, Md., entered the guilty pleas in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. McCullum pled guilty 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. Browne-Louis pled guilty to one federal cyber charge and the District of Columbia offense of conspiracy to disclose sexual images. The Honorable John D. Bates scheduled McCullum’s sentencing for March 8, 2018 and scheduled Browne-Louis’s sentencing for April 23, 2018. Each of the federal charges carries a statutory maximum of a year in prison and each District of Columbia offense carries up to 180 days in jail.
McCullum’s plea, which is contingent upon the Court’s approval, calls 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 would be required to perform 100 hours of community service.
Both defendants were indicted in July 2017 following an investigation by the United States Capitol Police.
According to statements of offense filed as part of the guilty plea, 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 the member’s re-election, the plea documents state.
In announcing the pleas, 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, 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.