A Los Angeles man who formerly worked as a NASA contractor was sentenced on Monday to four years and nine months in federal prison for hacking into women’s computers and online accounts, then blackmailing them with information and nude photos, prosecutors said.
Richard Gregory Bauer, 28, knew the women he targeted but threatened and harassed them anonymously, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release.
He pleaded guilty last October to federal charges of stalking, computer hacking and aggravated identity theft.
U.S. District Judge John F. Walter, who sentenced Bauer, called the crimes “disgusting and harmful.”
Bauer admitted he spent years hacking into the email, social media accounts and computers of the victims who were his family members, friends, acquaintances from high school and college, co-workers and friends of friends, officials said.
In their sentencing memorandum, prosecutors wrote that Bauer’s “crimes represent a long-running course of behavior, not a one-off event, or for that matter a brief spree.”
Bauer leveraged his personal knowledge of the victims’ lives, work and families when sending anonymous messages in which he threatened to post their nude photos online or share them with people they knew unless they sent him additional explicit images, according to the memorandum.
The harassment began in early 2015 and continued until last year, 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 formerly worked at NASA’s Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center located at Edwards Air Force Base in Kern County, and lived in Lancaster and Palmdale.
He was arrested Sept. 5 at his Mid-Wilshire residence by special agents with NASA’s Office of Inspector General.