OAKLAND– Sammy Sultan was sentenced to two years in prison for making hundreds of obscene and harassing phone calls to law enforcement agencies, announced Acting United States Attorney Alex G. Tse and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. The Honorable Phyllis J. Hamilton, Chief U.S. District Judge, handed down the sentence yesterday, after Sultan entered a guilty plea on December 13, 2017.
According to his plea agreement, from February 2015 through September 2017, Sultan, 44, of Hayward, Calif., admitted he made hundreds of obscene or harassing phone calls to various law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and abroad, including Canada and Great Britain. He typically requested to speak with a female officer or sergeant. Sultan further admitted that he made a variety of false claims to convince officers that he was a threat to others or himself; he did so, in part, to engage the female officers in protracted conversations. Sultan admitted that he sometimes would claim to have escaped from a mental hospital and that he might harm himself or others if the person on the other end of the line refused to answer his questions. He sometimes claimed he possessed a handgun, an AK-47, or an automatic rifle. At times, he claimed he had a women hostage.
Sultan also admitted he took several steps to conceal his identity. He acknowledged he did not disclose his identity during the calls and refused to inform the persons he called of his identity when asked. Sultan also admitted he knew his calls would result in extensive efforts by law enforcement officers, in the United States and abroad, to trace the calls and try to identify him, his location, and the location and identity of any hostage. In an effort to avoid being detected, he used a variety of different phones and routed calls over the internet using Voice Over Internet Protocol (“VOIP”) technology and “spoofing” services to create “burner” phone numbers so that the actual phone numbers for his phones would be concealed. He also admitted he knew his actions would result in a substantial disruption of public, governmental, and business functions.
On November 21, 2017, Sultan was charged by information with one count of making obscene or harassing telephone calls, in violation of 47 U.S.C. § 223(a)(1)(C), and one count of making threatening interstate communications, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875(c). Pursuant to his plea agreement, Sultan pleaded guilty to making obscene or harassing calls and the threat charge was dismissed.
In addition to the prison term, Chief District Judge Hamilton also ordered Sultan to serve a year of supervised release following his incarceration, during which time he has been ordered to enroll in a computer monitoring program and participate in mental health counseling. Sultan has been in custody since September 12, 2017, and will begin serving his sentence immediately.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Green is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.