Category : extortion
Under California Penal Code Sections 518 to 527, the crime of extortion involves “obtaining of property from another, with his consent, or the obtaining of an official act of a public officer, induced by a wrongful use of force or fear, or under color of official right”. Threats do not need to be physical. Extortion is both a California criminal offense and a federal offense of blackmail under 18 U.S.C. Section 873 when it involves interstate commerce, the use of a computer, telephone or if threats occur on federal property. Extortion is generally charged as a felony. You may face fines not exceeding $10,000 and imprisonment up to four years for an extortion conviction.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department detectives have been investigating whether actor Mel Gibson was a victim of extortion and have presented their results to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office on February 16, 2011. Officials have been investigating Gibson’s claims that his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, allegedly extorted $10 million from Gibson in exchange for not releasing some embarrassing voicemails of Gibson terrorizing her. There was also a report that Ms. Grigorieva may have texted Gibson about her intentions. Gibson and Grigorieva had been in a bitter child custody battle over their two-year-old daughter, which was settled in May 2010. Gibson and Grigorieva signed a child custody settlement agreement whereby Gibson gave her child support, a house and joint custody of their daughter Lucia in exchange for her not releasing the tapes. He claims she reneged on the deal when the tapes appeared on the Internet. After the tapes were released, he claimed she was involved in extortion against him. She has consistently denied any wrongdoing. The case is separate from the allegations she has claimed against Gibson for domestic violence. The District Attorney’s office has been reviewing the extortion case since August 2010, and no formal charges have been filed against Grigorieva.
If you are under suspicion for extortion or have been arrested for extortion in California, you should hire a California criminal defense attorney immediately to defend you. You cannot be convicted of extortion if property or money was given to you, and there were no threats or force or fear. The attorney can argue lack of sufficient evidence or misunderstanding to get the charges dismissed. The prosecutor would not be able to prove that you committed the crime beyond reasonable doubt without proof of fear and threats.
A retired Louisiana judge, Michael Walker, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of racketeering and corruption. Racketeering is the illegal act of extortion, in which intimidation is used to get individuals or businesses to pay money or perform favors.
Walker wasn’t the only Louisiana judge to face such corruption charges, as his cohort and peer Vernon Claville, a Juvenile Court Judge in the Caddo district, has also been convicted of racketeering and corruption. Claville is expected to be sentenced by mid-October 2008.
Evidence of Corruption
An FBI investigation, officially known as “Broken Gavel,” was responsible for uncovering evidence of Walker and Claville’s corruption earlier this year. According to investigators and prosecutors, Walker and an unnamed bail bondsman would receive cash bribes from defendants in northwest Louisiana in exchange for reduced bonds or expedited arraignments.
During the investigation, the FBI was able to tape phone conversations in which the bail bondsman arranged the bribes. The FBI also videotaped a few instances in which Walker took the bribes. Both pieces of evidence were presented to jurors at the trial.
Following his conviction, Walker officially stepped down from his post as judge. He made no statements during his trial or sentencing hearing.
Other Forms of Judicial Corruption
Unfortunately, this case highlights the taboo and unsettling topic of possible judicial corruption. While many tend to think of corrupt judges as those who simply exchange a ruling for cash (as was the case with Walker and Claville), there are a number of other ways that corruption can shake judicial neutrality.
Some of the most common forms of judicial corruption typically include:
- Denying the admission of certain evidence
- Ignoring or supporting perjury
- Manipulating procedure
- Permitting unsubstantial claims or disregarding valid assertions
These and other acts of judicial corruption are not only unethical but also life altering for those facing criminal charges.
(Source: Find Law News)
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