An ‘extreme’ stalker accused of tormenting a Utah family by sending them more than 500 unwanted services has pleaded guilty to one count of cyberstalking.
Loren Okamura, 44, is said to have ordered food deliveries, locksmiths and prostitutes, to the home of Walt Gilmore and his family for more than a year.
The family’s attorney Nathan Crane said Okamura, from Hawaii, targeted the Gilmores because he felt ‘slighted’ by a member of the family, though he declined to provide more specifics.
Okamura entered the pleas during a video conference hearing based out of U.S. District Court in Utah last week. He is scheduled to be sentenced October 5.
His guilty plea capped off a case that prosecutors called an ‘extreme’ example of the darker and seedier side of modern technology.
Okamura’s online stalking in 2018 and 2019 targeted the Gilmore family, who live in a quiet, middle-class suburb of Salt Lake City, prosecutors alleged.
He sent one woman threatening messages and posted her picture and address online, authorities said. In one email he is said to have told her she should ‘sleep with one eye open and keep looking over her shoulder.’
Loren Okamura, 44, was accused of sending ‘food deliveries, repairs, tow trucks, locksmiths, plumbers and prostitutes’ to a family’s home in Utah (pictured)
The Gilmore family had to enhance security around the house and lived in fear of the next unwanted person who would arrive at the house, day or night. They were also forced to post a sign in the driveway that alerted anyone coming to provide services that it was a scam and to instead report it to police.
Utah police went to the North Salt Lake house more than 80 times over a four-month period from November 2018 to February 2019.
Police estimate the combined loss to companies is more than $20,000 in wages and uncollected fees.
This year two teens arrived at the house to sell fishing equipment for an agreed $100, according to a classified ad.
In March, a man with a health condition came by to be driven to Portland as per and agreement in a Craig’s List ad.
‘He was really upset,’ Gilmore said. ‘He needed someone to drive with him.’
A police cruiser was also parked in front of the home around the clock. North Salt Lake Police Sgt. Mitch Gwillian previously called it ‘stalking on steroids’.
The Gilmores are relieved that Okamura accepted responsibility for his actions that took a major toll on them, Crane said.
‘Mr. Okamura was cowardly hiding behind his computer and just hounding these people,’ Crane said. ‘Since Mr. Okamura was arrested, this family has finally had some peace, peace they didn’t have for the 18 months when he was stalking them.’
Gilmore previously said: ‘A family member knows him but does not have any further interaction with this individual and this is his way of getting back at our family because we don’t want to have anything to do with him.’
Gilmore added: ‘My wife is scared to death constantly. My other family members don’t like to go outside because they don’t know who’s coming.’
Prosecutors agreed to drop two additional charges — interstate threats and transporting people for prostitution — as part of an agreement that calls for him to get credit for the eight months he’s spent in jail since his November arrest at a Honolulu supermarket.
The deal calls for three years of supervised release and a return to Hawaii.
Utah Attorney General John Huber, pictured right, reported the arrest in a press conference in November last year. At left is Sgt. Jeff Plank of the Utah Department of Public Safety, who was assigned to the FBI’s cybercrime task force
Okamura didn’t offer any apologies or explanations during Monday’s hearing, but spoke up to request that language in the agreement that said he sent drug dealers to the house be removed. The judge and attorneys agreed.
‘It’s not like drug dealers are advertising,’ Okamura said. ‘It just occurred out of the other services that I had sent there, mainly the prostitutes. I never intentionally sent drug dealers.’
Investigators began honing in on Okamura as the suspect in January 2019 when the Gilmores were granted a protective injunction from him in Utah, but it took investigators until October to gather enough evidence to charge Okamura because of his use of encryption and apps that made him appear anonymous, prosecutors said.
He wasn’t arrested until late November because police struggled to find him because he didn’t have a permanent address or job and authorities said he was ‘savvy’ with technology used to mask his phone’s location.
Prosecutors have said they have records from Okamura’s cellphone and Apple ID to support the charges.
Vanessa Ramos, his federal public defender in Utah, declined to comment after the hearing.
Okamura’s federal public defender in Hawaii, Sharron Rancourt, said in November at his initial appearance in Honolulu that he was mourning his wife but declined to elaborate.
Source: Daily Mail