FAIRFAX, Va. (DC News Now) — A man pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal cyberstalking charge in relation to sexually explicit and threatening messages and emails he sent to two victims.
The incidents started in June 2020, when Michael Ghali, 35, of Fairfax, Va., sent the first victim a series of sexually explicit and threatening text messages. Prosecutors said that this victim was someone he knew from church. He used an application that lets users send text messages to someone without letting them know the user’s phone number.
Ghali also sent threatening emails to a second victim, who was the head of a medical department at a Baltimore-based hospital. He accused this victim of sexually abusing employees in the medical department along with minors and claimed he had photo proof too.
He demanded that the second victim resign from his position at the hospital and threatened to send the photos of the abuse to the press.
The victim knew of Ghali, as Ghali had previously done a short medical rotation at the hospital. The first victim had also worked at the hospital during the period of Ghali’s harassment, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
The first victim contacted the Anne Arundel County Police Department and got a protective order on July 7, 2020.
The second victim hired a professional security detail and changed his surgical and other schedules due to Ghali’s emails that threatened his and the lives of his grandchildren.
The second victim suspected that Ghali was the one threatening him, and on Aug. 25, 2020, officers searched his home. They took two of his iPhones, three boxes of ammunition, a semi-automatic firearm, a 10-round magazine and more.
After reviewing Ghali’s phone, it showed social media pages where Ghali posted people including several pictures of the first victim with sexually explicit captions.
Then on Aug. 28, 2020, Ghali violated his protective orders and got a new iPhone. He sent more messages and emails to both victims and posted more sexually explicit and threatening messages about the first victim to his social media pages.
On Oct. 9, 2020, officers searched his home again and found the receipt and packing materials of the new iPhone Ghali bought but couldn’t find the device itself.
He faces a minimum sentence of one year in prison and a maximum of five years in prison for cyberstalking. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 28. He remains in detainment pending his sentencing.