The Latest on the investigation of a debt collection scam involving celebrities and public figures in California (all times local): 12:30 p.m.
A judge has approved a plea deal for an ex-convict who pleaded guilty to extortion, fraud and obstruction charges in connection with a debt collector scam involving some of the country’s biggest names.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge signed off Wednesday on a deal that would send the ex-cons to prison for 20 years.
A prosecutor declined comment on the details of the deal.
The former cop was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
He has been out on parole since March 2017.
The ex-cop had faced up to 40 years in the state’s maximum-security prison for the extortion charge, but the judge said that sentence was too harsh and ordered a reduced sentence of 12 to 15 years.
He also ordered that the ex’s attorney, who also represents the celebrity debtors, pay the ex $1.1 million.
He was not present during Wednesday’s hearing.
The deal was first reported by The Associated Press.
A woman who worked for the former cop in the early 2000s told the AP she did not recall anything about the matter, but said he never touched her.
The woman said the ex was a good friend.
The case has drawn widespread criticism because of the number of celebrities and other public figures involved, including singers Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, and some celebrities are accused of being involved.
The star-studded celebrity court has been criticized for its secrecy.
Celebrities, celebrities, celebrities.
We can’t even say anything.
It’s all in the public domain, and it’s the celebrities that get in trouble for this, said one former cop who was not involved in the case.
We know the media will try to do everything they can to make this look bad, he said.
A California judge in a civil case against ex-law enforcement officers accused of extortion, intimidation and obstruction said Wednesday that he is “proud” of the judge’s ruling that the former officer’s plea deal with prosecutors does not constitute a crime.
In a separate deal, a judge in Los Angeles County Superior Court ordered that an ex who had pleaded guilty earlier to fraud and extortion charges in a case involving some celebrity debt collectors will receive a 10-year sentence.
The judge, Peter A. Gonzalez, ordered that Judge John M. Hynes accept the terms of a plea agreement that calls for 20-year prison terms, including three years for the three extortion charges.
Prosecutors sought a 20-to-life sentence in a criminal case against the ex, who has since been released from prison.
The judge rejected that bid.
“In this case, the defendant has not demonstrated that he has been an accomplice to the offense charged, nor that he was reckless with respect to the conduct alleged,” Gonzalez wrote.
He noted that the two cases are separate and the two men are cooperating.
Hynes declined to comment.
California law defines extortion as an attempt to influence or coerce a person to perform a legal obligation.
The crime can be a misdemeanor or felony.
Loretta Lynch has spoken out against the case, and the actress who starred in the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” tweeted Wednesday that she is “sorry for the pain and suffering that has been caused” by the alleged fraud.
As a mom, I’m so sorry for the hurt and suffering this has caused my family, friends, and all of my fans.
I hope the court’s decision is a lesson to everyone.
#OrangeIsTheNewBlack — Loretta Lynch (@Lorettacarlisle) April 29, 2018 California lawmakers have been working on legislation that would make it easier for people to file civil suits against debt collectors for debts that they have never paid.