Trials & Litigation

Man who filmed mock trial for RJ Reynolds faces extortion case over claimed threat to release clips

A man who filmed a mock trial for R.J. Reynolds has been federally indicted for extortion in North Carolina after allegedly threatening to make footage public if the tobacco company didn’t contribute $15,000 to a Kickstarter campaign on his behalf.

Filmmaker Joseph Patrick Kelly is believed to be in California and has not been taken into custody, the Greensboro News & Record reports.

He is accused in the Middle District of North Carolina case of sending emails to the company last year making several threats to release material from the filming if a $15,000 contribution was not made to Kickstarter for a horror film project. The indictment says Kelly was given a confidentiality agreement to sign before the film work he did for Reynolds but never turned it in.

“Look at it this way,” said one email, according to the indictment. “RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company can gross that in four minutes. I can sell it to the media for four times that. There are 100’s of lawyers who would want to get there [sic] hands on this information and in doing so can cause your company several million in extra cases against you.”

Kelly did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment, made via his Kickstarter page.

His film was made in Florida, where Reynolds has been involved in tobacco litigation matters.

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