Case # 10ZF0084
Date: December 1, 2014
ATTORNEY CONVICTED FOR CONSPIRING TO EXTORT $350,000 FROM CLIENT’S FORMER EMPLOYER BY THREATENING TO PUBLICLY DEFAME HER WITH FALSE CLAIMS AND LIES
*Co-defendant pled guilty before trial
SANTA ANA – An attorney was convicted on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, for conspiring to extort $350,000 from his client’s former employer by threatening to publicly defame her with false claims and lies. James Toledano, 70, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime and one felony count of attempted extortion by threat. He faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison at his sentencing Jan. 30, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-30, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Co-defendant Michael Earl Roberts, 40, pled guilty on Oct. 27, 2014, to 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. He was sentenced to 6 months in jail, 3 years of formal probation, and ordered to have no contact with the victim.
Between 1995 and 2005, Roberts worked as a personal trainer for the victim and her husband. In 2005, his employment was terminated. Between August 2006 and June 2008, Roberts made 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 left 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, met with the victim’s attorney and indicated that Roberts wanted $350,000 in exchange for not releasing information he claimed would be damaging to the victim. Roberts threatened to publicly humiliate the victim with a negative media campaign by having false and damaging stories printed in the Orange County Register, the Los Angeles Times, Orange Coast Magazine, and on ABC.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Olivieri, formerly of the Special Prosecutions Unit and now Assistant Head of Court for the North Justice Center, is prosecuting this case.