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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 20, 2022

United States Naval Officer Charged Federally for Cyberstalking, Aggravated Identity Theft, and Conspiracy for a Campaign to Harass His Ex-Wife

The Naval Officer’s Girlfriend, a Department of Transportation Attorney, Faces the Same Charges for Her Role in the Harassment Scheme

Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal criminal complaint has been filed charging Jason Michael Leidel, age 42, an active-duty commissioned officer of the United States Navy and Sarah Elizabeth Sorg, age 43, a Senior Trial Attorney for the United States Department of Transportation, both of Silver Spring, Maryland, with aggravated identity theft, fraud related to a protected computer, cyberstalking and conspiracy to commit cyberstalking.  The criminal complaint was filed on October 17, 2022, and unsealed today upon the arrest of the defendants. 

The defendants are scheduled to have initial appearances beginning at 3:00 p.m. today, in U.S. District Court in Baltimore before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson.

The federal charges were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Alison F. Zavada of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS); Special Agent in Charge Craig Miles of the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (USDOT OIG); Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD); and Chief Paul W. Neudigate of the Virginia Beach, Virginia Police Department (VBPD).

As detailed in the affidavit, Leidel married his wife in 2005 and they had two children.  Leidel has served in the military since 2003—first in the United States Air Force, then in the United States Navy (USN).  In 2017, while on active duty with the USN, Leidel was accepted to a Ph.D. program at the Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences (“USUHS”) in Bethesda, Maryland, and reported for his assignment in June 2018.  In August 2018, Leidel and his wife permanently separated.  She and the two children returned to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where they had lived prior to Leidel’s USUHS assignment.  

The affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint alleges that, since their separation, Leidel has engaged in an ongoing and extensive scheme to harass his ex-wife, interfere with court proceedings relating to domestic relations issues, and perpetrate fraud on courts in both Montgomery County, Maryland and Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Among other things, Leidel used spoofedand fraudulent email accounts and phone numbers to falsely create communications purporting to be from his ex-wife, thus causing criminal charges to be filed against her, disrupt her employment, and interfere with her personal life.  Leidel also allegedly sent emails from compromised accounts and spoofed accounts in order to portray his ex-wife as a mentally unstable parent, with the hope that he would gain custody of their minor children in order to deprive his ex-wife of his retirement accounts and pension in their divorce agreement.

In addition, according to the affidavit, Sorg shared her home with Leidel and was present when a search warrant was executed at their residence.  Sorg was aware of information that linked multiple fraudulent online accounts used by Leidel to harass and victimize his ex-wife as early as August 2020 and has allegedly continued to provide assistance to Leidel to harass the victim, interfere with court proceedings, and perpetrate fraud on courts in Montgomery County, Maryland and Virginia Beach, Virginia.

If convicted, Jason Leidel and Sarah Sorg each face a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and for cyberstalking; a mandatory sentence of two years in federal prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for aggravated identity theft; and one year in federal prison for fraud related to a protected computer.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings. 

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI, the NCIS, the USDOT OIG, the MCPD, and the VBPD for their work in the investigation and thanked the Maryland State Police for its assistance.  Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys P. Michael Cunningham and Thomas M. Sullivan, who are prosecuting the federal case.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.

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Topic(s): 
Cybercrime
Identity Theft
Component(s): 
Updated October 20, 2022