Friday, June 25, 2010

St. Louis City Man Pleads Guilty to Extortion Charges

ST. LOUIS—The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that Ethan Mikeal Avalos has pleaded guilty to extortion charges.

According to court documents, from late 2007 to December 2008, Avalos threatened a medical professional (victim) with exposing the fact that the victim had several paid sexual encounters with a woman identified as "Brittany" whom he had contacted through Craigslist. The sexual encounters occurred at the Drury Hotel in Chesterfield, MO. In response to these threats, the victim made a series of cash drop-offs totaling approximately $8000 to an individual at the registration desk of the Drury Hotel in late 2008. Avalos provided the victim with the false information that he was a Marine and was being sent overseas, and did not contact the victim again until sometime in November 2009.

In November 2009, Avalos renewed contact with the victim and once again threatened to expose the sexual encounters if more money was not paid. When the victim did not immediately agree to pay more money, Avalos sent the victim an e-mail in December 2009, which contained the following threatening language: "You are luckier than Tiger you were given the chance to have your big mistake kept away from your wife/media/practice." The e-mail message goes on to state that "my platoon is losing guys everyday," and directs that any future payments would not be made at the Drury.

Later in December 2009, the victim agreed to make one last payment to end the threats. Avalos agreed that in return for a cash payment of $3,500, the threats would end and this would be "our last dealing." Avalos directed that the payment should be made to an individual identified as "Ethan" at the Journeys Kidz retail store in West County Mall. He stated in an e-mail that he was still "on pretty strict duty" and had limited time before he would have to "check in at the barracks." On December 29, 2009, the victim made a cash payment in the amount of $3,500 to "Ethan" at the store as directed. Ethan was the defendant.

Ethan Mikeal Avalos, 27, St. Louis City, pleaded guilty to one felony count of extortion by interstate communications before United States District Judge E. Richard Webber.

He now faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000, when he is sentenced on September 16, 2010.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney James E. Crowe, Jr., is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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