Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
June 29, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
ATTORNEY AND FORMER PERSONAL TRAINER
TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR CONSPIRING TO EXTORT $350,000 FROM FORMER EMPLOYER
BY THREATENING TO PUBLICLY DEFAME
HER WITH FALSE CLAIMS AND LIES
SANTA ANA – A former employee and his attorney have been charged with conspiring to extort $350,000 from the defendant’s former employer by threatening to defame her by publicly spreading lies and false claims about the victim. Michael Earl Roberts, 44, Corona del Mar, former personal trainer to the victim, is charged with 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, is charged with 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 four years and eight months in state prison. Roberts and Toledano are both out of custody on $100,000 bail each. They are scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow, Tuesday, June 30, 2009, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-57, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
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 April 2006 and May 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.