A former NASA contractor is expected to plead guilty Thursday in Los Angeles to federal charges of stalking women online with threats to publish nude photos unless they provided him with additional explicit pictures.
Richard Gregory Bauer, 28, a former contractor at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, has agreed to enter the plea to stalking, unauthorized access to a protected computer, and aggravated identity theft. The three charges together carry a total possible sentence of a dozen years behind bars and a $750,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
An indictment filed in federal court alleges that over the past several years, Bauer, who until recently lived in the High Desert communities of Palmdale and Lancaster, used phony identities to harass female friends, family members, co-workers, acquaintances from high school and college, and friends of friends.
Bauer allegedly used Facebook to send questions to his victims for his purported “human societies class,” asking his targets for things like their pets’ names and where their parents met — prompts that are similar to those used to reset passwords. He would then access their accounts, sometimes discovering nude or semi-nude photographs.
In emails to six women — in which he used aliases — Bauer sent victims previously obtained nude photos of themselves, claimed to have additional photos, and threatened to post the photos online unless the women sent him new photos in various stages of undress, federal prosecutors contend.
In other instances, Bauer allegedly convinced victims to install malware by claiming that he needed their help in testing software he claimed to have written, according to prosecutors.
The malware gave Bauer unauthorized access to the computers, and allowed him, among other things, to capture from the victims’ computers passwords for web sites and email accounts, the indictment alleges.
On at least two instances, Bauer is alleged to have used logins and passwords belonging to victims to log on to their Facebook and Google email accounts.
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