Creepy porn lawyer Michael Avenatti has been convicted of extortion. This should put a definite end to his attempt to run for the Democratic nomination for President.
Alexandra Chalupa, who was involved in Avenatti’s abortive campaign effort in Iowa, was unavailable for comment.
Because of some unwise remarks that I’ve seen on another website, I’ve been poking around Title 18 of the United States Code. I found 18 U.S.C. § 875(d), which says:
(d) Whoever, with intent to extort from any person, firm, association, or corporation, any money or other thing of value, transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to injure the property or reputation of the addressee or of another or the reputation of a deceased person or any threat to accuse the addressee or any other person of a crime, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
IANAL, so I can’t give anyone advice based on what I’ve found, but it seems to me that it would be rather foolish to get on an interstate communications medium like the Internet and directly threaten someone with a statement like, “Do this, or I’ll accuse you of a crime.”
It’s one thing to accuse someone of a crime or to point out the consequences of a criminal act, but extortion is something else, and any attempt to use an extortionate threat will not only get a commenter banned here at Hogewash!, it will also result in his comment being forwarded to law enforcement.
UPDATE—FWIW, Md. Criminal Law § 3-704 appears to have even stiffer penalties.
The Supremes have refused to hear an appeal of a case challenging a federal statute concerning threats, in this case a threat made in a YouTube video.
Attorneys for the appellant maintained that the federal threats law—a 1932 statute making extortion illegal—was unconstitutional. Of eight circuit courts of appeal to decide the issue, only the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has chosen to view the law in line with the appellant’s interpretation. The 9th Circuit is the court whose rulings are most often reversed by the Supreme Court.