Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
April 2, 2010
Susan Kang Schroeder
ATTORNEY AND FORMER PERSONAL TRAINER INDICTED FOR CONSPIRING TO EXTORT $350,000 FROM FORMER EMPLOYER BY THREATENING TO PUBLICLY DEFAME HER WITH
FALSE CLAIMS AND LIES
SANTA ANA – The Orange County Grand Jury indicted a former employee and his attorney today for conspiring to extort $350,000 from one of the defendant’s former employer by threatening to defame her by publicly spreading lies and false claims. Michael Earl Roberts, 44, Corona del Mar, former personal trainer to the victim, has been indicted on one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime, one felony count of attempted extortion by threat, two misdemeanor counts of harassing phone calls, and two misdemeanor counts of annoying phone calls. Attorney James Toledano, 65, Costa Mesa, was indicted on one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime and one felony count of attempted extortion by threat.
If convicted, both defendants face a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in state prison. Roberts and Toledano are both out of custody on $100,000 bail each and are scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment April 9, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
On June 29, 2009, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office released a press release with the following information:
Between 1995 and 2005, Roberts is accused of working as a personal trainer for the victim and her husband. In 2005, his employment was terminated. Between August 2006 and June 2008, Roberts is accused of making dozens of harassing and threatening phone calls to the victim and her friends indicating that he planned to make her life difficult and sue her. He is accused of leaving increasingly threatening and harassing messages telling the victim, “You better hang onto something, because it’s going to get bumpy,” and that he was going to “destroy” her.
In May 2008, Toledano, acting on behalf of and as attorney for Roberts, is accused of meeting with the victim’s attorney and indicating that Roberts wanted $350,000 in exchange for not releasing information he claimed would be damaging to the victim. Roberts is accused of threatening to publicly humiliate the victim with a negative media campaign by having false and damaging stories printed in the “press” including Orange Coast Magazine, “newspapers” including the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times, and “media” including ABC. Roberts and Toledano are accused of conspiring and attempting to extort money from the victim under the threat of publicly humiliating her with false, slanderous lies.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Olivieri of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.