A Los Angeles man who formerly worked as a NASA contractor accused of threatening to post nude photos of seven women unless they sent him more pleaded guilty to charges in the cyberstalking scheme, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
Richard Gregory Bauer, 28, entered the plea on three charges: stalking, computer hacking and aggravated identity theft, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release.
Bauer most recently lived in the Mid-Wilshire area, but previously resided in the High Desert while working at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center near Lancaster.
He acknowledged victimizing friends, family members, high school and college acquaintances and co-workers, the Associated Press reported. He allegedly used aliases such as “Steve Smith,” “John Smith” and “Garret” when communicating with the women.
The defendant admitted in court that he broke into the victims’ social media and email accounts and began sending threats in early 2015, continuing through the start of 2018, prosecutors said.
Investigators said he got access by sending the some victims a series of questions via Facebook, pretending they were part of a “human societies class” project. But the answers revealed information he used to solve their online security questions, reset their passwords and obtain photos.
In other instances, he would allegedly persuade the women to install malware, telling them he needed their help testing software he wrote.
Bauer then told the victims he would publish their explicit personal photos online unless they sent more, officials said.
Bauer was arrested Sept. 5 at his Mid-Wilshire residence by special agents with NASA’s Office of Inspector General.
He now faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for the stalking and computer hacking counts. while the aggravated identity theft count carries a two-year, consecutive prison term, prosecutors said.
A sentencing hearing has been set for Dec. 17.