A person would have to be living under a rock not to see the rows and rows of tabloid magazines that flood convenience stores nationwide. In their pages, these often exaggerated stories depict celebrities and other public figures exhibiting controversial behavior, snapped by photographers out to make a quick buck. However, experienced criminal defense lawyers in Michigan warn paparazzi and other “15-minutes-of-fame” seekers: bribing any person to cough up cash in exchange for pictures (especially those that do not exist) can land you in hot water. Criminal charges of bribery or conspiracy will be brought against you, as seen in the recent case of a Michigan woman charged after claiming to have incriminating photos of actor John Stamos.
Marquette resident Allison Coss, 24, approached actor John Stamos asking for a huge monetary payment in exchange for incriminating photos of the “Full House” star using cocaine and engaging in other questionable behavior. In October 2004, the then 17 year-old and Stamos allegedly had a steamy fling in an Orlando hotel room. During this time, the actor is said to have stripped and made several sexual advances towards Coss. Also during this time, the defendant and her friend snapped the pictures in question, where Stamos was depicted snorting cocaine.
They threatened to turn the snapshots over to the tabloid magazines
Years later, Coss and her boyfriend Scott Sippola, 31, decided to use these photographs to their advantage. In a series of e-mail messages, the two requested that Stamos pay them $680,000 for the pictures. If he refused to pay up, they threatened to turn the snapshots over to the tabloid magazines for even higher amounts of money.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, are trying to discredit the possibility that such photos even exist. During a search of Coss’ home and vehicle, FBI agents were unable to locate any pictures of Stamos, let alone any incriminating ones. In his defense, the actor admitted to having interacted with Coss during his vacation following a painful separation with his wife, but denies any sexual interaction or cocaine use. Additionally, Coss eventually testified that she and Sippola exaggerated the truth in e-mail correspondence to the actor, but she and witnesses for the defense maintain that the pictures do exist.
Despite testimony made on behalf of the defense, prosecutors had enough evidence to accuse both Coss and Sippola, 31, with conspiracy charges in Michigan, as well as extortion. Conviction of these crimes will bring life-changing consequences for the two, who have called their actions “immoral, but not illegal.” If a jury finds them guilty, Coss and Sippola could face a maximum of seven years behind bars.
Coss and Sippola, as well as others with similar charges against them, should pro-actively seek the best legal defense possible, due to the harsh punishments associated with such a conviction. Contacting hard-working and knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys in Michigan who give superior legal advice and legal representation will help to ensure that the charges against you do not ruin your life–keeping you at home and work, not in jail.