US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jason Michael Leidel is behind bars after being charged by federal prosecutors with cyberstalking, aggravated identity theft, and fraud. Coffee or Die Magazine composite.
A US Navy officer prosecutors said terrorized his ex-wife during a long online campaign is behind bars, charged with cyberstalking, computer fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
Lt. Cmdr. Jason Michael Leidel, 42, faces a detention hearing in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Monday, Oct. 24, four days after he was jailed by US Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson. No attorney has been named for him.
A seven-year US Air Force veteran who was commissioned into the Navy nearly 11 years ago, Leidel is assigned to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in Falls Church, Virginia. He dropped out of a doctoral program at the Uniform Services University of the Health Sciences in late 2020 after being accused of plagiarism, according to court records.
His indictment states the officer tested positive for marijuana use during a recent random urinalysis and the Navy plans to involuntarily separate him from the sea service.
“The Navy is cooperating with all investigative authorities,” Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Devin M. Arneson said in a prepared statement emailed to Coffee or Die Magazine.
Sarah Elizabeth Sorg, 43, a senior trial attorney for the US Department of Transportation, has been charged by federal prosecutors in Maryland with aggravated identity theft, fraud related to a protected computer, cyberstalking, and conspiracy to commit cyberstalking. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.
Leidel's co-defendant is Sarah Elizabeth Sorg, a 43-year-old senior trial attorney for the US Department of Transportation. She faces the same charges and also has no attorney named for her in the federal docket.
Attempts by Coffee or Die to reach her for comment were unsuccessful.
They were living together in Silver Springs, Maryland, when law enforcement raided their home two years ago searching for evidence of the computer crimes, according to an indictment and search warrant application unsealed Thursday.
FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agents claimed Sorg had abetted Leidel’s “long-term and extensive scheme” to harass his ex-wife, interfere with court proceedings tied to their divorce and the custody of his children, and perpetuated fraud on courts located in both Maryland and Virginia.
Coffee or Die doesn’t identify alleged victims of domestic abuse.
In 2020 and then again two years later, law enforcement officers armed with search warrants raided the Silver Springs, Maryland, residence of US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jason Michael Leidel and Sarah Elizabeth Sorg, seeking evidence that they'd cyberstalked the sailor's ex-wife. US Department of Justice photo.
Prosecutors suspect Leidel wielded spoofed and fake email accounts and telephone numbers to concoct false communications allegedly from his ex-wife, triggering criminal charges against her that were dismissed.
Using graphic and racist language, the Navy officer tampered with her employment as a school teacher, used bogus online accounts to frame her as mentally unstable, and tried to bilk her out of his military retirement and pension accounts, according to his indictment.
Using anonymous accounts, Leidel emailed his wife a fake rejection message for a job she was seeking and poisoned her name by spreading salacious rumors about her to school principals, including allegations that she’d aborted a child, abused prescription drugs, and neglected her kids, prosecutors said.
In another fake email spoofed to her name and circulated to her friends, Leidel made it seem as if his ex-wife was confessing to promiscuities, allegedly after guzzling anti-depressant medication and margaritas, according to federal investigators.
In a message sent to the parent-teacher organization at an elementary school and several Navy officials, Leidel allegedly posed as a neighbor to report his ex-wife for domestic violence and illegal gun charges. He assumed his ex-wife's identity in still another message that threatened to fatally shoot him and their children with “ghost guns,” according to his indictment.
Federal agents allege US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jason Michael Leidel used a Department of Defense-issued computer during a long online harassment campaign against his ex-wife. US Department of Justice photo.
And when his ex-wife married a US Marine Corps officer, Leidel posed as a fake whistleblower, “Michael Jones,” in a campaign designed to strip him of his security clearance and boot him from his command, according to his indictment.
In messages spoofing his wife’s account, Leidel allegedly told child welfare investigators that the man was a molester.
Agents also accused him of fabricating medical records to make it appear that his ex-wife had sought treatment for suicide and cocaine abuse in 2007, part of a bungled attempt he allegedly made to win a child custody case.
When Maryland’s Montgomery County Police Department started investigating Leidel, the Navy officer began a similar campaign against a detective, sending obscene messages to his cell phone and spoofing his email account to send racist messages to the cop’s boss, prosecutors said.
The 88th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio provides direct support to US Air Force operations by promoting and sustaining force health, preventing injury and illness, restoring health, and sustaining human performance. US Air Force photo.
Leidel served in the US Air Force from 2003 to 2009, where he was assigned to the 88th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
He attended the University of Kentucky’s College of Dentistry from 2009 to 2011 under a US Navy scholarship.
In the Navy, he’s been stationed at Navy Medicine Readiness Training Command in Portsmouth, Virginia, and the Pre-Board of Inspection and Survey detachment in nearby Norfolk.
His sea duty assignment was on board the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt from 2014 to 2016.
Leidel’s military decorations include the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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