LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two people pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of plotting to extort millions of dollars from a Saudi sheik.
While German national Leyla Orrs, 33, is charged with falsely accusing the son of the Saudi sheik of sexual assault, rape and torture, prominent Orange County attorney Joseph Cavallo, 58, along with Emanuel Hudson, 58, are accused of demanding $20 million in a Swiss bank account from the sheik over a phone conversation.
Cavallo’s defense, meanwhile, maintains that the attorney believed his client, Orrs, had been sexually assaulted and that he only spoke to the sheik regarding a possible settlement to a civil suit.
“That’s not what Mr. Cavallo did,” Cavallo’s attorney John Barnett said. “He was contacted by members of the royal family in an attempt to settle the civil matter. That is what Mr. Cavallo’s understanding of the proceedings and the contacts were. He did not — Mr. Cavallo did not — threaten them with criminal prosecution for money.”
Court documents show that the criminal complaints alleges Hudson also spoke with the sheik over the phone and said in his conversation that if the $20 million were delivered, “Leyla would not testify … case would be over”.
The charges of sexual assault against the sheik’s son, Thamer Albalwi, were dropped July 11.
In a statement, Albalwi said: “I prayed the truth would come out and, thanks to the American justice system, it did.”
Hudson is scheduled to be arraigned later in July, while all three defendants reportedly face up to four years in prison.
In 2007, Cavallo’s license was suspended for his reported involvement in a bail bonds kickback scheme.