Special Agents with the FBI arrested a Chicago-area man Friday night on federal charges of interstate stalking for allegedly taking nude videos of a television broadcaster and posting those videos on the Internet after attempting to sell the videos to a celebrity website.
Michael David Barrett, 48, of Westmont, Illinois, was taken into custody without incident at Chicago O’Hare Airport after being named in a criminal complaint filed late Friday afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles. Barrett made his initial appearance in United States District Court in Chicago on Saturday morning and was ordered to appear in federal court in Los Angeles on October 23. This morning, Barrett was released on bond.
The complaint charges Barrett with interstate stalking, specifically alleging that he stalked the victim “with the intent to harass, to place under surveillance with intent to harass and intimidate, and to cause substantial emotional distress to a person in another state.”
The victim in this case, an on-air personality with ESPN who is identified in court documents as “E.A.,” travels across the country in the course of her work. Videos of E.A. were taken while she was undressed in two hotel rooms. Seven of the eight videos subsequently posted on an Internet site appear to have been taken in one hotel room that the victim believes is in Nashville. At the hotel room where the victim stayed in September 2008, the FBI later discovered that the peephole in the door had been altered. Subsequent investigation showed that Barrett stayed in the hotel room adjacent to E.A. after specifically requesting a room adjacent to the victim.
The FBI investigation uncovered evidence that Barrett registered at a Milwaukee hotel where E.A. was staying in July 2008, but that he never checked in. However, the peephole on the door where the victim stayed during that trip was altered in a similar way to the peephole found in the Nashville hotel.
In January 2009, TMZ.com was offered the opportunity to purchase the videos of the victim via email messages. An individual at TMZ.com provided some of the information from the emails to an attorney representing the victim. The email was linked to Barrett through a number of methods.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The statutory maximum penalty for the charge of interstate stalking is five years in federal prison.
The case against Barrett was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office, with assistance from the FBI’s Chicago Field Office. The Chicago Police Department provided assistance with the arrest of Barrett.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Wesley L. Hsu
Chief, Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section