AP

Hawaii man pleads guilty to cyberstalking Utah family

Jul 28, 2020, 6:18 AM
FILE - In this March 21, 2019, file photo, a warning sign and a police officer's vehicle stand out ...
FILE - In this March 21, 2019, file photo, a warning sign and a police officer's vehicle stand out Walt Gilmore's home in North Salt Lake, Utah. A Hawaii man accused of tormenting a Utah family for more than year by using the internet to send more than 500 people to their house for unwanted services including food deliveries, repairs, tow trucks, locksmiths, plumbers and prostitutes pleaded guilty Monday, July 27, 2020, to one count of cyberstalking. Loren Okamura, 44, entered the pleas during a video conference hearing based out of U.S. District Court in Utah that capped off a case that prosecutors called an "extreme" example of the darker and seedier side of modern technology. (Laura Seitz/The Deseret News via AP, File)
(Laura Seitz/The Deseret News via AP, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Hawaii man accused of tormenting a Utah family for more than a year by using the internet to send more than 500 people to their house for unwanted services including food deliveries, repairs, tow trucks, locksmiths, plumbers and prostitutes pleaded guilty Monday to one count of cyberstalking.

Loren Okamura, 44, entered the pleas during a video conference hearing based out of U.S. District Court in Utah that capped off a case that prosecutors called an “extreme” example of the darker and seedier side of modern technology.

Okamura’s online stalking in 2018-2019 targeted a father and his adult daughter who live in a quiet, middle-class suburb of Salt Lake City, prosecutors alleged. He sent the woman threatening messages and posted her picture and address online, authorities said.

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, their attorney Nathan Crane said.

Utah police went to the North Salt Lake house more than 80 times over a four-month period from November 2018 to February 2019, leading the family 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.

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.”

Crane said Okamura targeted the Gilmores because he felt “slighted” by a member of the family, though he declined to provide more specifics.

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.

Okamura is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5.

He 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.

Okamura also sent the woman extensive and repeated texts and voicemails, authorities said. One email told the woman she should “sleep with one eye open and keep looking over her shoulder.”

Today’s Top Stories

AP

Twitter might get bought by Elon Musk after all. Twitter screen shown on phone...
TOM KRISHER, MATT O'BRIEN and RANDALL CHASE Associated Press

Musk offers to end legal fight, pay $44B to buy Twitter

The offer comes just two weeks before the Twitter lawsuit seeking to force Musk to go through with the deal goes to trial in Delaware Chancery Court.
18 hours ago
supreme court pictured, its new term has started and will hear new cases...
The Associated Press

Supreme Court’s top cases for new term, new Justice Jackson

Already the Supreme Court has said it will decide cases on a range of major issues including affirmative action, voting rights and the rights of LGBTQ people.
2 days ago
TikTok shown on a phone. TikTok is proving influential in poliitics...
DAVID KLEPPER Associated Press

TikTok politics: Candidates turn to it ‘for better or worse’

TikTok isn't just about viral dance challenges anymore, but also a place to shop, learn about beauty, fashion or even politics.
5 days ago
Damage from Hurricane Ian...
ADRIANA GOMEZ-LICON Associated Press

Ian returns to hurricane status, meanwhile floods trap many in Florida

Hours after weakening to a tropical depression while crossing the Florida peninsula, Ian regained hurricane strength Thursday evening after emerging over the Atlantic Ocean.
6 days ago
An uprooted tree, toppled by strong winds from the outer bands of Hurricane Ian, rests in a parking...
CURT ANDERSON Associated Press

Ian makes landfall in southwest Florida as Category 4 storm

About 2.5 million people had been ordered to evacuate the area before the storm hit the coast on Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph (241 kph).
7 days ago
The White House to ask for less money to fund border wall...
ACACIA CORONADO and GISELA SALOMON Associated Press

Increase in Venezuelan migration is felt across US

Last month, Venezuelans surpassed Guatemalans and Hondurans to become the second-largest nationality stopped at the U.S. border after Mexicans.
9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Hawaii man pleads guilty to cyberstalking Utah family