The FBI found no evidence that a Phoenix FBI informant who slept with his agent handler committed the massive security breach he described after his arrest in California earlier this year, court documents show.
Phoenix New Times covered the story of informant Samuel Mattia and local FBI agent Mikaila Hughes in an April 30 article, relating from explosive court files how Hughes destroyed her marriage, shot down her career, put family members in danger, and helped cause the firing of Goodyear’s police chief last year because of her affair with a violent, skinhead gang member who has spent much of his life in prison.
Mattia is now fighting a federal charge of cyberstalking for allegedly threatening to email revenge-porn photos if she stopped seeing him. He later sent the photographs to the FBI and Hughes’ husband, Justin, a Goodyear deputy police chief. (Court documents refer to the Hugheses only as M.H. and J.H.)
One intriguing and troubling aspect of the tale was how Mattia reportedly told the FBI after his arrest in February — on an unrelated domestic-violence charge — that Hughes had given him access to weapons and restricted data.
Mattia claimed to have downloaded information from the agent’s terrorism task force laptop, according to the April 29 federal complaint against him, which also states that “Mattia is in possession of [Hughes’] laptop, pictures, guns (issued Glock 23), tablets, 2 Samsung Galaxy S9 phones, throw away phones, zip drives with downloaded case information, and recordings between himself and multiple FBI agents.” Mattia allegedly explained to FBI investigators that Hughes was corrupt and had told him she wanted to create a case against her husband and plant evidence on a terrorism suspect in prison.
In a more recent case filing, however, the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office downplays those claims considerably.
“It appeared that Defendant was using his genuine involvement in serious crime, and his knowledge of FBI procedures, to leverage some benefit related to his then-pending Sacramento domestic violence charges,” says a July 7 motion by prosecutors arguing to keep Mattia in federal detention, calling his claims of corruption and the security breach “wild accusations to attempt to deflect attention from himself.”
The July motion, which was approved, and other filings in the case had previously been unavailable but were accessible on the PACER federal court records site last week.
As New Times’ previous article on Mattia and Hughes explained, Mattia’s criminal case disappeared from the PACER online court records site the same day that New Times called the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for comment. Having been restored at some point, the docket and accompanying court records allow the public to learn more about the case.
The FBI “diligently investigated” Mattia’s claims that Hughes was trying to fabricate charges against her husband, as well as to fabricate evidence in murder-for-hire cases, and found absolutely no evidence to substantiate those claims, the motion says. In addition, Mattia also sent the pornographic images to another FBI agent who worked with the informant, “falsely claiming that [Hughes] ‘told me about u and ur wife and gave pictures,’ implying scandalous content in picture form, though no such scandalous pictures appear to exist.”
The motion covers Mattia’s long history of violent assaults and other crimes in arguing that he’s dangerous and wouldn’t show up to court dates if released. It alleges Mattia threatened physical harm to Hughes and her family members, and that his threats were “plausible and serious, given his [violent history] and in part because of his inside information that made him a successful confidential human source (“CHS”) for the FBI in at least one murder-for-hire plot. Because of his work as a CHS, Defendant has non-standard knowledge of the policies and procedures of the FBI, which he leveraged to injure the instant victim effectively [with the revenge porn] when she refused his demands.”
Mattia has new incentives to flee the law, would probably get five years in prison, and prefers to blame others for his problems, the detention motion says, giving credit to New Times for finding online statements written by Mattia about his relationship with the FBI and Hughes: “As revealed by a call to the FBI in February of 2020, and his interview with Special Agents in March of 2020, as well as his publication of his interactions with the FBI as revealed in reporting by the Phoenix New Times, Defendant’s approach so far has been to attempt to lie his way out of federal trouble by accusing others of wrongdoing.”
The FBI remains silent about what happened to Hughes and how the scandal has affected the Phoenix FBI office, saying it won’t comment on the pending case. Hughes resigned from the FBI on March 14, 2019.
As the court docket now shows, Mattia was indicted by a federal grand jury on October 20 on one count of cyberstalking Hughes and her husband. In a video conference arraignment on November 6, Mattia, with his federal public defender Gerald Williams, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Prosecutors also asked for a protective order to have evidence in the case, like personal information and explicit photos, restricted to just the parties in the case and not made public. Williams opposed the motion; he didn’t return a message seeking comment. U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa signed the order on November 13. The cyberstalking case remains ongoing.
Gerald “Jerry” Geier, the former Goodyear police chief, became embroiled in the affair the day Hughes met with Mattia on April 3, 2019.
Hughes’ husband became worried that she’d been kidnapped or hurt, sparking Geier to agree to an unauthorized search in Phoenix by Goodyear police officers. As an April 16, 2020, New Times article about Geier’s termination explained, his untruthfulness regarding the team’s excursion was one of the main reasons for his firing. He had also been accused of trying to cover up for a sergeant who hit a utility pole with a vehicle while off-duty and drove off. The Goodyear city manager upheld his firing in April. Geier voluntarily relinquished his peace officer certification in August.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free… Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who’ve won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism’s existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our “I Support” membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.