1. 2 couples involved in sex video blackmail case met at church
The case, which has played out like a soap opera, began when two couples who knew each other at a Katy church ended up in family court where criminal allegations surfaced.
The first couple - Leslie Amanda Hippensteel, 31, and John Ousley, 32 - divorced in March after four years of marriage.
The second couple - Saul Eisenberg, 28, and his former fiancée, 24 - are going through custody proceedings over their 6-year-old child.
According to court records, Ousley had been having an affair with Eisenberg's fiancée and the two made consensual videos of two sexual encounters.
Hippensteel allegedly found the tapes and emailed them to Eisenberg, who then allegedly texted them to his mother and step-father.
Hippensteel and Eisenberg are now each facing a misdemeanor charge of unlawful disclosure of intimate visual material. If convicted, both could face up to a year in jail.
On Thursday, County Court at Law Judge Sharon Bull issued a no-contact order barring Eisenberg from contacting Ousley or harassing the mother of his child. The move was met by disdain from Eisenberg's attorney, Joe Mathew.
"Mr. Eisenberg was in no way involved in this," Mathew said.
He said the allegations were made against Eisenberg so his former fiancée could gain an advantage in the custody case.
Mathew confirmed that the couples met in church, but declined to name it. Facebook posts from last year show they attended Grand Lakes Presbyterian Church in Katy.
The fracas gained notoriety earlier this month when Hippensteel was arrested for allegedly blackmailing Ousley with the sex tapes.
Ousley told police that Hippensteel called him during their divorce proceedings and said she would send the recordings to his employer, Houston Christian High School, if he did not give her money.
Ousley showed police bank records indicating he transferred money to Hippensteel's account and made cash withdrawals totaling $7,812.21.
Hippensteel allegedly sent the sex tape to Eisenberg after being paid. Eisenberg said in a deposition that he received the recordings from Hippensteel around Feb. 2, according to court records.
Those records show Eisenberg said he forwarded the recordings to his mother and step-father.
Around the same time, Hippensteel also sent the recordings to administrators at the high school by email. Ousley resigned from his job after he was confronted about the recordings.
The videos were apparently also uploaded to pornhub as well, but court records are not clear about who is accused of sending them to the pornographic website. The allegations against Hippensteel and Eisenberg are spelled out in a single affidavit filed in both cases.
2. ‘I was not in my right mind. After all, who blackmails a police officer?’: Teenage nightclub waitress who edited a video to make it sound like a police officer was threatening to rape her is jailed
Georgia Harris, 20, from Chelmsford in Essex, used a doctored recording to try and blackmail the Metropolitan Police officer out of £250.
The nightclub waitress, who works at Faces nightclub, also in Chelmsford, filmed the unsuspecting policeman after instigating a conversation with him in his car about a 'hypothetical' sex attack scenario.
She was then said to have cropped the recording and sent him a six to eight second clip, in which he could only be heard saying 'I'd be raping you', with her replying 'I don't want you to rape me'.
Maidstone Crown Court, in Kent, heard Harris, who was 19 at the time of her scheme, threatened she would go to police with the recording if the 22-year-old officer did not pay her £200.
Having also implied she was just 15 years old, Harris then sent him her bank details - and upped her demand to £250.
The officer, who lives in Sevenoaks in Kent, was 'shocked and panicked' but spoke to colleagues and his boss before reporting the blackmail to Kent Police.
Harris was arrested and later sent police a letter, addressed to her victim.
Apologising, she wrote: 'I was not in my right mind. After all, who blackmails a police officer?'
Harris, admitted blackmail and was sentenced to eight months in a young offenders' institution.
Maidstone Crown Court in Kent heard on Wednesday her victim had lent her money on previous occasions and took her on a shopping trip to buy clothes.
But in a statement he said he felt 'trapped in a corner' and was being used for money.
The officer, who was not named in court, said: 'She has always been talking about money and asking for money.
'I am extremely disturbed by this and feel it has affected me personally with trust issues and has made me realise how vulnerable I can be.'
Judge Jeremy Carey sentencing Harris said he had to put her behind bars for the 'premeditated, determined and unpleasant nature' of her behaviour.
He said: 'The officer is to be commended for the measured way in which he has expressed the extent of the impact upon him.
'The reality is, as you well know, that he was particularly vulnerable because of his position as a serving police officer.
'In other words, the mere use of this material, misleading as it was, would have resulted, had it gone any further, in at least a suspension and an investigation.'
Judge Carey said he accepted Harris's letter showed 'an appropriate degree of recognition of the seriousness' of what she had done and some remorse.
But he added that despite her young age, the offence of blackmail warranted immediate custody to deter others.
'It is well understood and for good reason that blackmail offences are to be treated very seriously indeed in terms of penalty. Blackmail is a very nasty offence.'
The video clip Harris sent to the officer was played in court.
Prosecutor Peter Forbes said Harris had doctored their full conversation so that it became 'intentionally embarrassing and, indeed, criminal'.
But, the defence maintained the content of the clip was all Harris had recorded.
The couple first met online in December 2015 and the officer took Harris and her friend out for dinner.
There was no further contact until March last year when Harris started texting him and they met up another two or three times.
But Mr Forbes said Harris began to pester the officer about staying at his place but he refused and when he did not answer her texts, she began 'reacting oddly', telling him ' I know where you live'.
The court was told the officer did not understand why her tone had changed but continued to meet Harris, taking her for dinner and on a shopping trip.
It was in May last year as he was driving her home that Harris initiated a contrived conversation about rape and recorded the officer, said Mr Forbes.
'She began to ask, in her words, about hypothetical scenarios. She said 'What would you do if I told you I was 15 years old?'
'He asked her why she would say that and said her profile on the dating website indicated she was at least 18, and she was in fact 19 by this time.
'She said she was 17 and then asked him 'If you were to force me to have sex with you, what would that be?
'He replied 'I'd be raping you' and went on to explain why that would be the case but clearly stated nothing had happened and it was just hypothetical.'
Harris repeated her question 'You would be doing what?', and the officer gave the same reply.
The prosecutor said he was confused by the conversation and dropped her home.
But they later argued and in an abusive exchange of texts, he told Harris she was 'taking him for a mug'.
He also branded her 'a nasty piece of work' before saying goodbye and telling her not to contact him again.
But, the court was told Harris texted him, saying 'You said you were going to rape me and said you didn't care I was young'.
She then sent him the video recording.
Mr Forbes said: 'It showed a clip of the conversation they had previously had in the car about the hypothetical rape scenario, which had been cropped to make it appear the complainant said 'I'd be raping you', with the defendant saying 'I don't want you to rape me'.
'That was all that was contained in the clip, and didn't contain the lengthier and fuller conversation that preceded and followed these contents.'
Alarmed by what he saw, the policeman asked Harris to call him.
The prosecutor continued: 'She said words to the effect of 'You had better pay £200 into my bank account or I'm going to the police with that video'.
'He immediately hung up and received more texts providing her bank details. The amount being demanded was now £250.'
The court heard no money was paid and the video was not made public.
Harris made no comment during her police interview but was said to have 'sincerely apologised' in her hand-written letter.
She wrote: 'I was in a very bad place and have been for a few years....I now realise the full extent of my actions and I am sorry for putting you through this.
'I was not in my right mind. After all, who blackmails a police officer? Looking back, I cannot understand why I did something like that. Apologies.'
A probation officer told the court Harris was motivated by financial greed and immaturity, and 'wanted to see what she could get' out of her relationship before she resorted to blackmail.
Edward Duncan Smith, defending, said Harris, who hopes to become an air hostess, never intended to go as far as she did.
'It snowballed. She has expressed to me a high level of genuine shame for her behaviour. It was out of character.'
He added she was no longer drinking and had sought psychiatric help.
It was also said she would lose her job if locked up, and her mother would not let her return to the family home.
3. Dutchman sentenced to prison for blackmailing women into webcam sex acts
Aydin C, who under Dutch law is identified by only his first name, was “sentenced to 10 years and 243 days in prison for internet fraud and blackmail”, the court said.
Arrested in 2014 after Facebook alerted the Dutch police, he was found guilty of harassing women from as far away as Britain, Canada, Norway and the US.
A Dutch court had ruled in June that Aydin C could be extradited to Canada to stand trial over the death of 15-year-old Amanda Todd, who committed suicide in October 2012 after being tormented by an anonymous cyberbully.
That ruling is under appeal before the Dutch supreme court.
Sentencing Aydin C on Thursday, the court said that he “abused dozens of young girls by gaining their trust through speaking with them on the internet”.
“He then abused that trust by forcing them to perform sexual acts before their webcams,” the court said. “If they refused to do it again, he threatened to send their images to their relatives or to publish them on pornography sites.”
The defendant had denied 72 charges including computer sex crimes such as making and storing of child pornography, as well as extortion, fraud and hard drug possession.
Todd’s mother, Carol Todd, flew from British Columbia to the Netherlands to attend the hearings in February.
She told the Dutch news agency ANP on Thursday that she was “relieved and pleased” with the result.
“I hope that this sentence will help the wounds of all the victims heal. It has been a long journey for all of us in the search for justice for Amanda.”
Although she said attending the trial was difficult, she had wanted to look Aydin C in the eye.
She told Dutch broadcaster NPO in February that her daughter would have “wanted to be face to face with him, and tell him what his actions did to her. But she can’t. So I’m going to be the one who is sort of standing up for my daughter.”
4. Sex with middle-schooler cost teacher $28K in blackmail payments, DISD police say
The teacher, Thao Doan, made multiple payments to the blackmailer, totaling nearly $28,000. Eventually, the boy's mother discovered some text messages from the teacher on her son's phone and reported the affair to the school. Apparently, the boy was behind the messages and was using the money for what she called "illegal purposes" and causing problems at home.
Doan was placed on administrative leave, while the student has been in and out of the juvenile system on burglary charges.
5. A Tea Party Leader Threatens Senator And His Family
A very bad idea for Gerhart. He was convicted of blackmail, and forced to pay a fine. In response, he expressed concern for American citizens, “I lost a thousand dollars. I became a felon. I lost my voting rights. I lost my gun rights. I'm probably getting off easy compared to the rest of society, though."
6. Man in Letterman blackmail plot freed from NY jail
Robert "Joe" Halderman served four months of his six-month sentence in the case, which exposed Letterman's personal life to public scrutiny. Halderman got time off for good behavior during his stint at the Rikers Island jail complex, but he isn't done with his sentence: He still has to complete 1,000 hours of community service.
"He survived this, and he's glad to be getting off the island," his lawyer, Gerald Shargel, said Wednesday. The former CBS "48 Hours" producer — who's up for a News and Documentary Emmy award this year — is looking for work, Shargel added.
Halderman, 52, pleaded guilty earlier this spring to attempted grand larceny. He admitted he demanded $2 million in hush money last fall to keep from revealing personal information about Letterman.
The case spurred the "Late Show" host to reveal on-air that he'd had sex with women on his staff.
Halderman's scheme was fueled by both financial problems and romantic jealousy, his lawyer has said. Halderman had seen from peeking in his girlfriend's diary that she'd had a relationship with Letterman, her boss — information he used to bolster his threat to make the comic icon's world "collapse around him," authorities said.
The divorced Halderman has since remarried, Shargel said. And while he no longer has his job at CBS's "48 Hours" — the network has declined to discuss whether he resigned or was fired — he is up for an Emmy for an April 2009 story about an American exchange student charged with murder in Italy. He was one of four producers cited for the story. The news Emmys will be presented Sept. 27 in New York.
His community service will entail providing job training to formerly homeless people and convicts getting out of prison.
Letterman married longtime girlfriend Regina Lasko last year. They began dating in 1986 and have a 6-year-old son.
While Letterman's popularity emerged unscathed from the scandal, the host has said it was an emotional blow.
"You take a look at the explosion, and it knocks you down, and you wake up every morning, and you're scared and you're depressed and sad," he said on "Live! With Regis and Kelly" in April.
"And you kind of got to let that knock you down and knock you down, and then pretty soon you've got to start knocking IT down. And then, when that happens, you start looking at the pieces left of your life."
7. "Girls Gone Wild" robbery: dastardly dildo dude Darnell guilty
Riley broke into Francis mansion in January 2004 and forced Francis to pose for a demeaning videotape at gunpoint. He then demanded to be paid $500,000 to keep the video off the internet. Francis, who has a long list of charges that have been filed against him and who has made a living exploiting the escapades of celebrities, was now the victim of someone hoping to cash in on their famous prey. "Even if you think I'm a bad guy because I do Girls Gone Wild, it didn't give him the right to break into my home and rob me and threaten me."
8. Serbian Man Accused Of Blackmailing Hollywood Studio
Momcilo Dinovic reportedly obtained a copy of the movie and demanded more than $25,000 worth of bitcoin, the electronic currency, or he would post the film online before its official release on March 31, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.
According to the Serbian Interior Ministry, Dinovic received the equivalent of about $11,000 in bitcoin from the companies and was waiting for more when he was detained by police in Belgrade on March 14.
Police have not said how Dinovic, an IT expert, came to possess the film, a star-studded computer animation featuring Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Lisa Kudrow, Tobey Maguire, and Jimmy Kimmel.
But screenwriter and film critic Aleksandar Radivojevic noted that "at a time when everything is done over the Internet, things like this can easily leak out or can be hacked."
If found guilty of extortion, Dinovic faces a prison sentence of between three and 12 years.
9. A farcical royal blackmail plot
But an Old Bailey jury has decided that defendants Ian Strachan and Sean McGuigan were guilty of trying to blackmail £50,000 from an unnamed minor royal - however comedic the pair's efforts sounded.
The aliases employed to preserve the victim's anonymity added a frisson of intrigue to the court hearings. Who was "witness A", the member of Britain's monarchy the pair had targeted?
Above all, however, the case painted a rather desperate picture of the defendants' lives on the fringes of London high society.
Strachan, 31, of Fulham, west London, and McGuigan, 41, of Battersea, south London, spent a total of five months making eight hours of tapes which they hoped would earn them a huge payday.
They believed their ticket to riches was "witness D" - an aide to A whom Strachan met in 2006, and who he covertly filmed apparently describing a sexual encounter with his employer.
The aide - who was drunk while most of the recordings were made - also told how another royal "flashed his willy in his face", the jury heard.
Strachan himself was dismissed in court by Ron Thwaites QC, McGuigan's barrister, as a "Walter Mitty" character.
In the course of his work as a fashion stylist and agent, Strachan admitted in court that he would often falsely claim to have a degree in law from Edinburgh University. In fact, he had dropped out of an access course after just a few months.
The product of a broken home from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, he remained close to his mother. He intended to share the proceeds of the blackmail plot with her, the prosecution claimed.
Strachan told the jury that he was spurred into action after he and two of his friends were sexually assaulted by D.
He resolved to expose the aide by covertly filming him taking cocaine and bad-mouthing his employer's family.
The crucial line - where D claimed that A had performed a sex act on him on the kitchen floor of a flat - was, prosecutors said, spliced together from more than one conversation.
But Strachan attempted to hawk the tapes around Britain's tabloid newspapers. The News of the World, the Sun, the Mail and Sunday and the Sunday Express were approached, but all rejected the offer, as did publicist Max Clifford.
'Wasn't my idea'
Realising that Fleet Street was not interested, the prosecution said, the pair decided to extract funds directly from Witness A himself.
A "threatening" phone call was left with A's assistant. "If he knows what's good for him he will ring me back," said the caller, who called himself "Kent Logan". According to the prosecution, the mobile phone used to make the call belonged to Strachan's mother.
Belfast-born McGuigan spoke to witness C, another one of A's aides, about how he had been in rehab.
The blackmailers demanded £50,000 and attempted to set up a meeting with the royal, but unbeknown to them the police had been contacted.
An undercover detective, posing as an aide called Paul Butler, arranged to meet them in room 713 of London's Park Lane Hilton hotel.
Strachan and McGuigan arrived with the tapes, not realising that the room was bugged.
During the meeting, Strachan flaunted a contract for £250,000 with the News of the World. James Weatherup, a reporter for the newspaper, confirmed that he had met the pair, but that the document was a forgery.
In the hotel room, "Paul Butler" asked the pair: "So if I don't purchase it you'll go to Max [Clifford], is what you're saying?"
Strachan replied: "Well, if you don't purchase it, then..."
Shortly afterwards, police entered the room, arrested the pair and took them away separately.
As McGuigan waited in a police car outside Belgravia police station, he was heard saying: "It wasn't my idea to get money off him, I didn't ask for money, it wasn't my idea."
The jury disagreed, and both men are beginning prison sentences for their crime.
10. Hostess jailed for hanky-panky blackmail
Hui Wing, 36, had threatened to expose her relationship with the official, referred to as Mr. X to protect his identity during the trial, unless he paid her HK$590,000 ($75,000).
The Hong Kong official, who is married with children, had appeared in court behind a screen as Hui spilled details of the liaison, including descriptions of sex in his office and how she had accompanied him on business visits to neighboring Macau and Guangdong.
District court judge Andrew Chan sentenced Hui to three years’ jail on each of two counts of blackmail, with the sentences to run concurrently.
Chan said, however, he believed Hui and Mr. X had developed a loving relationship during their four-month affair, even calling each other husband and wife before it soured.
Hui, from the Chinese province of Hubei, met Mr. X in a Hong Kong karaoke club in late 2006.