IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — A prominent Orange County attorney is one of three people accused of attempting to extort millions of dollars from the Saudi royal family.
Joseph Cavallo, 58, is accused of involvement in a multi-million dollar extortion plot, along with Leyla Orrs, 33, and Emanuel Hudson, 58.
In March, 2013, the district attorney’s office claimed Ors falsely accused the 23-year-old son of a Saudi Sheik of sexual assault. She reportedly said that he had tortured her, and burned her with cigarettes.
The DA went on to claim that Cavallo and Hudson attempted to extort $20 million from the Sheik on the agreement that Ors would not testify against his son, and “the case would be over”.
“He didn’t do anything that any lawyer in his position wouldn’t have also done,” Cavallo’s attorney John Barnett said. “He believed his client, just as the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office believed his client.”
Barnett went on to suggest that the phone call, in which the DA had claimed the extortion may have taken place, was initiated by the royal family, rather than his client.
“There was a phone call, but it was initiated by the royal family and their representatives,” Barnett said. “They called Mr. Cavallo to try to resolve the civil case.”
All three suspects were arrested on Thursday. Cavallo and Hudson made bail, while Orrs remains in jail.
Cavallo releasted a brief statement, stating only: “I am innocent. I did nothing wrong.”
The sexual assault charges were dismissed.