The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Entertainment

September 25, 2012

2 plead no contest to extorting Stevie Wonder



LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two people charged with trying to extort millions of dollars from Stevie Wonder pleaded no contest on Monday and were released after being sentenced to time-served in jail.

Alpha Lorenzo Walker and Tamara Diaz were sentenced to serve 292 days in jail and three years of probation for attempting to sell a video that purportedly portrayed Wonder in a negative light. Jail credits made the pair eligible for release Monday.

The pair was arrested in May after the Grammy-winner's attorney arranged a sting and claimed Walker had sought up to $5 million for the video.

Walker's attorney, Ian Wallach, said the deal was reached after prosecutors encountered trouble proving the extortion case and that the charges were eligible to be reduced to misdemeanors and expunged later if the pair comply with the terms of their release.

A judge ordered the pair to stand trial in July after a preliminary hearing in which a police detective described the video as an 80-minute rant against Wonder. Portions of it were filmed in the former home of the singer's late mother, which is now dilapidated, and it also shows Wonder's son, whom the musician is protective of.

Wallach had maintained his client was innocent and that he had a constitutional right to make and market the video. Diaz is Walker's girlfriend and was present during a police sting that involved Wonder's attorney and led to the pair's arrest.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office said both were ordered to stay away from Wonder and his associates while on probation.

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