By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
There's something else troubling. To support her contention that Toledano committed extortion, Olivieri called a lone, so-called expert to the grand jury: Paul Roper—the Marconis' personal lawyer and the man police used to carry a duffel bag containing $360,000 to Roberts in the sting operation.
Roper testified that a fool could see that Roberts had no case and that Toledano's goal was therefore extortion: the exchange of Bo's incriminating letters and pictures and a promise not to go to the media for the money. Here again, however, we encounter likely self-serving spin slamming into pesky facts: Roberts went to the media before he accepted the duffel bag.
Also, there is no direct evidence, other than Roper's word, that Toledano ever threatened that a failure to pay meant he would go to the media with salacious dirt or accuse Bo of committing perjury about the sex. Without a threat, there is no extortion attempt.
To further explain the flimsiness of the case, Roper—with Olivieri's prodding—cast Toledano's tough negotiating with the Marconis as the work of a criminal. Roper testified that it's unheard of and suspicious for a lawyer to try to negotiate a settlement for a client prior to going to court.
Do what the grand jury shamefully didn't: Consider the absurdity of Roper's statement. Then think about the fact that the prosecution's case relies on the uncorroborated word of a lone, biased witness who is on the Marconis' payroll. Then ask yourself if this sordid mess should have ended up in a criminal courtroom.
* This article was modified on June 23, 2011.
This column appeared in print as "This Sting Stinks: The more you look at the criminal case against Michael Roberts and Jim Toledano, the more it looks like a matter for civil court."