A Pasadena man accused of using fake identities to threaten to rape, torture and kill women who refused to date him pleaded not guilty Thursday to more than two-dozen federal charges.
Sam Hughes, 31, entered his plea in Los Angeles federal court via video conferencing. An Oct. 6 trial date was set. A federal grand jury last week handed down a 26-count indictment charging Hughes with multiple counts of stalking, making online threats, mailing threatening communications, and witness tampering.
The self-described information technology worker and astronomer — sometimes using his real name, and other times using aliases or social media accounts — sent his victims communications in which he expressed hope they would die or in which he made specific threats to harm them, prosecutors allege.
For example, in October, after one victim reported prior threats to law enforcement authorities, Hughes allegedly sent the victim an email stating in part that someone “will come out and first bash you head in, rape you slash your throat and burn your car and house,” according to court papers.
Hughes allegedly sent another threat that read in part: “I will rip your … throat out and stab you in the eyes and put gasoline over your half mutilated body.”
Federal prosecutors contend the British-born defendant used nearly 10 online aliases and handles.
The FBI began investigating him in May 2019 after a victim filed a complaint with the Internet Crimes Complaint Center.
“The threatening communications sent by Hughes to the victims were direct, graphic, and disturbing in nature, including statements such as: `I am coming to get you, I will enjoy every moment of killing you’ and `I can guarantee you will die soon at my mercy,”’ prosecutors allege in court documents.
After being contacted by both the FBI and state law enforcement officers, “Hughes continued to send electronic communications and letters threatening to injure, rape or kill at least three of the victims who had reported his threats to the police,” according to a criminal complaint previously filed in the case.
“In his communications to some victims, Hughes threatened that contacting the police would lead to the injury or death of the victim or the victims’ loved ones,” the complaint alleges.
As a result of separate investigations, Hughes was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Pasadena Police Department on two occasions in June, which resulted in charges being filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the Pasadena City Attorney’s Office.
Hughes posted an eight-minute video of one of his contacts with Pasadena police on YouTube last year.
Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Hughes on July 10, and he was taken into custody from state authorities on July 24. Hughes has been in federal custody since that time.
The stalking counts and the charges stemming from the alleged threats all carry a maximum penalty of up to five years in federal prison. The witness tampering counts each carry a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in prison.
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