Legal Ethics

Calif. Lawyer Accused of Extortion Effort in Client Representation


A California lawyer has been criminally charged concerning his representation of a client in a civil harassment case.

Attorney James Toledano, 65, of Costa Mesa, is charged with conspiracy to commit a crime and attempted extortion by threat, reports the Orange County Register. Prosecutors say that while representing Michael Earl Roberts, 44, of Corona del Mar, Toledano met with an attorney for the plaintiff in the harassment case and told the lawyer that Roberts wouldn’t publish damaging information about the plaintiff if he received a $350,000 settlement, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

Roberts formerly worked as a personal trainer for the plaintiff. Also criminally charged in the extortion conspiracy case, he is accused of making dozens of harassing phone calls to the unidentified woman and her friends between 2006 and 2008 and threatening to publish false and damaging information about her.

Attorney David Swanson, who is representing Toledano, says his client did nothing wrong, and was bringing alleged perjury by the plaintiff to her lawyer’s attention when he was accused of trying to extort money from the woman.

“When all the facts become known, it will be absolutely clear there was no extortion, and this is nothing more than a legitimate attempt to settle a case with substantial damages,” Swanson says.

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