Trials & Litigation

Prominent Lawyer Indicted, Accused of Extortion Attempt in Settlement Talks


Charged last year with attempted extortion over his handling of a civil harassment case, a prominent Southern California lawyer has now been indicted, along with his client, for allegedly trying to extort $350,000 from a woman by threatening to smear her in the media.

James Toledano, 65, a Newport Beach practitioner who formerly served as chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party, and Michael Earl Roberts, 44, were indicted Friday by an Orange County Grand Jury on the same charges they already faced—conspiracy to commit a crime and attempted extortion by threat, reports the Daily Pilot.

However, the indictment puts the case—in which both men have pleaded not guilty—on a faster procedural track toward trial.

Toledano and Roberts could not be reached by the newspaper for comment but Toledano’s lawyer, David Swanson, previously said he did nothing wrong and was properly trying to settle a case with high potential damages.

Roberts, who worked for the alleged victim and her husband as a personal trainer from 1995 to 2005, allegedly made dozens of harassing calls to the woman and her friends after he was fired in 2005 and threatened to smear her. Toledano is accused of seeking $350,000 from her lawyer in exchange for refraining from releasing damaging information about her.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Calif. Lawyer Accused of Extortion Effort in Client Representation”

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