An Arizona woman cut a plea deal in Orange County Superior Court Tuesday that had her getting five years in state prison for copping to framing her now former husband's ex-fiancée for stalking and attempted rape.
Michelle Suzanne Hadley of Ontario had spent three months in jail after being accused by OC’s top cops of sending emails threatening her ex-lover’s wife and unborn twins as well as posing as the mom-to-be in craigslist exchanges aimed at having violent rape fantasies fulfilled even if she resisted the attacks.
However, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas convened a press conference earlier this year to announce that Hadley was not the criminal in this case, her supposed target Angela Maria Diaz was. Rackauckas laid out a "diabolical scheme to hurt an innocent person." After snagging Hadley’s ex-fiancé on the rebound, 30-year-old Diaz faked her pregnancy, the craigslist ads and more than 20 police reports accusing Hadley of phony crimes.
At Tuesday's court hearing, Rackauckas praised "the hard work of law enforcement continuing to investigate and seek the truth in this case" with keeping Hadley out of prison, possibly for life. But it was Hadley’s attorney Michael Guisti who pressed investigators with the OCDA and Anaheim Police Department into taking a harder look at the evidence, which ultimately showed Diaz was not only playing them when it came to Hadley but that the Phoenix resident had also in her past forged checks, faked cervical cancer, impersonated an attorney, forged doctor notes and posed in emails as another ex-girlfriend of her now former husband.
After Diaz was arrested in Phoenix on Jan. 6, she was brought back to Orange County for a preliminary hearing where Deputy District Attorney Rick Zimmer read a statement she had given to police during the investigation into Hadley. Diaz wrote about how Hadley ruined her life and should register as a sex offender.
As Zimmer read those words into the court record, "Diaz reacted by laughing," according to the OCDA's statement issued Tuesday.
While there was no report of Diaz chuckling while pleading guilty Tuesday to kidnapping, false imprisonment, falsely reporting crimes, seven other felonies and 22 misdemeanors that included 21 counts of filing false police reports, Rackauckas was still horrified by her demeanor. "Even while pleading guilty," the DA said, "Diaz showed no remorse, compassion or empathy for the victim."
Before Judge Nicholas S. Thompson delivered his sentence, Guisti made an impact statement on Hadley's behalf that spoke of "Diaz's vicious, monstrous acts" that led his client to spend 90 days in custody, damaging her credit, job and apartment applications, according to the OCDA statement.
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Guisti reportedly added of his client, "The experience has left her with nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder." (Sounds like someone has the basis for a great civil case, no?)
Thompson went on to acknowledge that in 30 years as a prosecutor, defense attorney and judge, he has never seen such a case. The OCDA statement indicates the judge found "Diaz's distorted sense of jealousy and lack of empathy led to the calculated effort to ruin Ms. Hadley." (In the interest of full disclosure, the Weekly participated in that, as you will read next week.)
When it came to sentencing, the judge conceded he considered Diaz's lack of criminal record and indicated he hopes she will receive mental health treatment. His Honor "also stated the initial arrests were no fault of law enforcement, and it is in fact law enforcement's work that led to the truth being found," according to the OCDA statement.
Rackauckas certainly expressed no ill will toward the real victim in the sordid mess: "We hope the resolution of this case brings some closure to Ms. Hadley so she can move forward in her life."