Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III sentenced Michael Ghali, age 35, of Fairfax, Virginia, today to 38 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release for a federal cyberstalking charge, related to sexually explicit and threatening messages and emails he sent to two victims. Ghali has been detained since his arrest and remains detained.
The sentence was announced by Erek L. Barron, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland and Acting Special Agent in Charge R. Joseph Rothrock of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.
According to his guilty plea, beginning in June 2020, Ghali sent an acquaintance, Victim 1, a series of sexually explicit and threatening text messages using an application which allows users to acquire phone numbers to send text messages that they don’t want to be associated with their known phone number.
During that same time, Ghali sent Victim 2, who was the head of a medical department at a Baltimore-based hospital, a series of emails from email addresses he created for the purpose of sending Victim 2 threatening messages, accusing Victim 2 of sexually abusing employees in the medical department and minors, and which claimed that the sender had photos of the abuse. Ghali demanded that Victim 2 resign from his position at the hospital and threatened to send the purported photos of the abuse to the press. Victim 2 knew of Ghali, as Ghali had previously completed a short medical rotation at the hospital.
As detailed in the statement of facts, after receiving the threatening messages, Victim 1 contacted the Anne Arundel County Police Department and obtained a protective order that became effective on July 7, 2020. Similarly, after Victim 2 received an email from Ghali which threatened Victim 2’s life and the lives of his grandchildren, Victim 2 hired a professional security detail and changed his surgical and other schedules. Victim 2 suspected that Ghali sent the messages and became aware that in 2019 Ghali had been charged in Fairfax, Virginia, with brandishing an AR-15 assault rifle within 1000 feet of a school. On July 21, 2020, the hospital obtained a temporary restraining order and ultimately a preliminary injunction against Ghali on behalf of Victim 2.
On August 25, 2020, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Ghali’s residence, seizing several electronic devices, including two Apple iPhones, as well as three boxes of .44 caliber ammunition. From a Federal Firearms Licensee in Fairfax County law enforcement also seized a .22LR caliber semi-automatic firearm, a 10-round capacity magazine, and additional ammunition. A subsequent review of Ghali’s phone revealed another social media page Ghali created in which he posted photos of individuals, including Victim 1. Several images of Victim 1 with sexually explicit captions were located on the page.
According to the plea agreement, on August 28, 2020, Ghali obtained a new Apple iPhone and, in violation of the protective orders that were in place, sent Victim 1 and Victim 2 additional messages and emails. In addition, Ghali posted sexually explicit and threatening messages regarding Victim 1 to another of his social media pages. On October 9, 2020, law enforcement executed a second search warrant at Ghali’s home which authorized seizure of among other things, the new Apple iPhone used by Ghali to send the message to Victim 1. Law enforcement ultimately were unable to locate the device but did locate a receipt for its purchase and packaging material.
U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI for its work in the investigation. Mr. Barron also thanked Assistant United States Attorney Paul A. Riley, who prosecuted the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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