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The suspect was innocent, the ‘victim’ a con artist

A worst nightmare — framed on felony charges, jailed for 88 days. Fortunately, the accused had a good defense lawyer.

 

In a stranger-than-fiction story, a California woman found herself facing a possible life sentence for crimes she didn’t commit. Crimes that never even occurred! Michelle Hadley spent 88 days in jail before police and prosecutors eventually realized she was in fact the innocent victim of an elaborate frame-up.

The accuser, Angela Diaz, told police she was sexually assaulted after someone posted a fake Craigslist ad inviting men to her house to fulfill a “rape fantasy.” The trail pointed to her husband’s ex-girlfriend — Hadley — who was soon arrested and charged with multiple felonies. But as the investigation unfolded, it turned out Diaz was not a victim but a master con artist who fabricated the crime and staged the evidence to get her romantic rival out of the picture.

It’s a cautionary tale for everyone involved. For police and prosecutors, things are not always as they appear. For the accused, a skilled and earnest criminal defense attorney is priceless — even if you are completely innocent.

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Bizarre sex crime saga was a nightmare for the falsely accused

The story is tailor-made for Dateline or Law & Order. Sex fetishes and the underbelly of Craigslist. Email espionage and cyber sleuthing. A love triangle involving a U.S. marshal. Stunning and devious plot twists. The rare mea culpa from a district attorney and detectives who admit to being duped.

For Michelle Hadley, the ordeal was unimaginable. She was arrested and plastered on the national news, accused of conspiring to have another woman raped. After posting bail, Hadley was arrested again when Diaz claimed she was still getting threats. With bail reset at $1 million, she sat in jail for two more months before the charges were dropped and she finally walked free. Now it is Diaz who faces felony charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment, perjury, fraud and other crimes.

Hadley’s attorney believed in her innocence and helped authorities poke holes in the sophisticated scheme. At first all signs indicated that Hadley had created the Craigslist ad and sent threatening emails to Diaz. In reality, Diaz fabricated everything, orchestrating messages to herself to frame her husband’s former fiancée. The only part that was real was the numerous men from Craigslist who showed up at Diaz’s home hoping to live out their creepy sexual fantasies.

This could happen to any of us

This tragic story shows how easy it is for the falsely accused to get railroaded. It’s especially true in criminal cases involving the Internet. Anyone can pose as anyone online or use electronic tricks to cover their tracks or point the finger at others. If you are accused of a crime or even questioned by police, do not hesitate to talk to a criminal law attorney who can assert your rights.

Source: Woman arrested in Craigslist ‘rape fantasy’ plot was framed (Washington Post)

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