White Collar Crime of ExtortionIn 1988, Vern and Eleanor Egenes were just an elderly couple with a daughter named Rondi and a private investigator named Robert Neil Hassen. You may have never expected it, but Hassen found out that Rondi’s husband, Geoffrey Holm, was involved in drugs and owed $100,000 to a major dealer. Being that Hasssen was an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration for years, the elderly couple believed him and all of the information he gave them. Hassen told the Egenes that he believed their daughter’s life was in danger due to her husband’s debt and so he encouraged them to enlist in a woman named Sherrie Curtis, who could offer protection services for Rondi. The Egenes paid an outstanding $69,000 for these services. However, imagine their surprise when they found out that Sherrie Curtis was Hassen’s sister and the entire deal was nothing more than an extortion scheme! Though Hassen paid his dues for the crimes he committed against this elderly couple and their family, many extortion cases are not solved this very same way. What is extortion and why does it become so costly for many who have fallen victim?

California Extortion Law

California extortion law is under sections 519 through 524 of the California Penal Code and is explained as “obtaining property with a person’s consent or obtaining an official act of a public officer by inducement through the wrongful use of force or fear, or under color of official right.” In other words, this crime takes place when somebody forces another person to do something against their will that, in the end, causes them to lose money. They will usually use force, violence, or hefty persuasion to get the other person to give up what they have, even resorting to threatening the person’s reputation or putting them in financial hardship. Many of these cases involve consent, which was obtained illegally. Protection schemes are some of the most common examples of extortion, like in the case of the Egenes. This is where somebody will typically demand that a shop owner pays for his or her protection to prevent something bad, like an assault, from happening. This is why blackmail is seen as a type of extortion, because a victim is forced to pay something to prevent information from being released that could damage their reputation. Many people will confuse extortion and robbery. However, there are slight differences. For example, extortion requires that the offender makes a verbal or written threat and robbery does not. Robbers will typically use immediate threats and force or steal money, whereas in extortion cases, the victim will willingly hand over money to avoid future damages or violence.

Punishment for Extortion

Extortion is almost always punished as a felony. Many people will find that, if they have committed this highly illegal crime, they will pay fines, restitution, suffer incarceration, and even probation. Fines could range anywhere from $10,000 or more! However, the restitution is probably the largest penalty. Those convicted of extortion will often pay restitution to the victim, where money is paid to the victim as compensation for the loss that they suffered. Incarceration, which is a prison sentence, could be quite significant. State laws will allow sentences of up to 15 years for this particular crime, depending on the attempts made. And, of course, many perpetrators will find that they will conjure probation sentences of 12 months or more. Have you fallen victim to an extortion case? Has it changed your life for the worst and made you afraid for your life or caused you to lose substantial amounts of money? Now you can call an attorney who understands your case and works with you to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call The Law Office of Peter Blair today.