• The next week, Roberts became frustrated by delays, and on June 9, he told Dick about the affair and that Priscilla was willing to pay him “to make the whole thing go away.”

• Toledano demanded a $10,000 fee from the Marconis.

• On June 12, 2008, Roberts left a voice-mail message for Priscilla stating, in part, “Hey, shitbag . . . I fucking cannot stand you. . . . I will gladly fuck you up.”

Jason Crosby
Michael Earl Roberts
Michael Earl Roberts

The following day was the stuff of movies. When Roberts drove his silver 2004 Acura to the northeast section of the Radisson Hotel parking lot at 3 p.m., he thought he’d exchange his evidence for a payoff from Roper. But things didn’t go exactly as he’d planned. Roberts, who’d made plans to leave the country, mentioned that he possessed a 9mm Glock, handed over his documents and accepted a large green duffel bag stuffed with $360,000—including stacks of $100 and $50 bills, a $10,000 check for Toledano, and a letter from Priscilla claiming the money “was a financial gift in appreciation for their many years of friendship.”

Unfortunately for Roberts, Priscilla had previously alerted authorities. Roper was wearing a live electronic-eavesdropping wire, and undercover Newport Beach police detectives swooped in to arrest Roberts; the money was returned to Priscilla. For the next 10 months, prosecutors investigated the case, and in May, charges were filed. The delay may have been due to a simple fact: It’s fairly unusual for a prominent, veteran lawyer to be charged with extortion, especially given his obligation to obtain settlements for clients whom he believes have been wronged. But, recently asked to explain his side, Toledano said, “Scott, you know I can’t talk to you about this.”

(Disclosure: Nearly 10 years ago, his son briefly worked as a Weekly intern.)

Ron Brower, Roberts’ attorney, is on vacation and couldn’t be reached for comment.

The defendants, who have pleaded not guilty to extortion and conspiracy charges, remain free on $100,000 bail each and are awaiting trial. A pretrial hearing has been set for Aug. 7.

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