ANAHEIM, Calif. - An Orange County woman who framed her husband's former fiancé pleaded guilty Tuesday in court to a slew of charges connected to the shocking scheme and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Angela Diaz, 32, carried out an elaborate online plan in 2016 that made it look like Michelle Hadley was posing as Diaz and posting rape fantasy ads on Craigslist.
Hadley spent three months in jail before prosecutors determined that she was an innocent victim, and was fully cleared of any wrongdoing.
Diaz was charged with two counts of kidnapping, two counts of false imprisonment by menace, fraud or deceit, two counts of forgery, two counts of possession of a forged check over $950, perjury and grand theft. All of the charges were felonies.
She was also charged with a misdemeanor count of falsely reporting a crime to a police agency and 21 counts of falsely reporting a crime to a peace officer.
Diaz pleaded guilty to all charges and received a five-year sentence in state prison
Hadley, meanwhile, was fully exonerated and cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in the plot in which she was targeted by Diaz.
"Even while pleading guilty, Diaz showed no remorse, compassion, or empathy for the victim. We hope the resolution of this case brings some closure to Ms. Hadley so she can move forward in her life," said District Attorney Tony Rackaukas.
The scheme orchestrated by Diaz was allegedly motivated by Hadley's prior relationship with Diaz's then-husband, whom she married in February of 2016.
Over the course of the convoluted plot, investigators said Diaz at various times pretended to have cervical cancer, pretended to be an attorney, forged doctor's notes, faked a pregnancy and impersonated two of her husband's ex-girlfriends in emails.
Diaz began falsely reporting harassing messages to police in June of 2016, claiming they were from Hadley. Investigators eventually discovered that Diaz was writing and sending the emails to herself using at least eight different accounts.
Diaz was able to obtain a restraining order against Hadley and continued to file false police reports claiming that Hadley made threats against her life and that of her unborn child.
Within that same month, Diaz began posing as Hadley online and responded to advertisements soliciting people to engage in "rape fantasies." She told the men who replied that she wanted them to have forcible sexual intercourse with her, even if she screamed or resisted, according to the criminal complaint.
On June 24, 2016, Diaz called 911 and falsely reported to investigators that a man entered her garage and attempted to rape her before she was able to call for help and chase the man away to bolster the credibility of her claims, investigators said.
Hadley was then arrested, but Diaz didn't stop the impersonating emails when Hadley was released on bail. She kept sending them, becoming increasingly violent in her language and including images, investigators said.
Hadley was subsequently arrested again and her bail amount was increased to $1 million. Hadley remained in custody until October when she was released pending an investigation of Diaz.
Diaz was eventually arrested in Arizona on Jan. 6, 2017.
While sentencing Diaz Tuesday, Judge Nicholas S. Thompson said that in 30 years as a prosecutor, defense attorney and judge, he had never seen a case quite like it.
A spokesperson for the city of Anaheim expressed regret over Hadley's experience, saying, "Our heart goes out to Michelle. As you can see from today's sentencing, this was an incredibly cruel and complex scheme, the extent of which required us to act in accordance with our duty under the law."
"The work of our detectives is what ultimately went on to unravel this unthinkable plot and prove that Michelle was actually the innocent, true victim in this case."
Hadley spoke Tuesday after the sentencing about what her life is like now.
"There are days when I wonder if I'll ever be able to have a normal life or a family after this because everything has just been so turned upside-down now," Hadley said.