2 Plead Not Guilty in $20M Extortion Plot Against Saudi Sheik

A judge issued a rare finding of "factual evidence" and dropped the charges against the sheik's son

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    A woman and one of her two attorneys who allegedly conspired to extort $20 million from a wealthy Saudi sheik by claiming that she was raped by his son, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to extortion and other charges.

    German national Leyla Ors, 33, and Joseph Gerard Cavallo pleaded not guilty to offering to receive a bribe from a witness, attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy of offering to receive a bribe and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

    Ors' other attorney, Emanuel Karl Hudson, 58, is charged with same the crimes as Cavallo and will be arraigned July 30.

    "I don't believe the evidence will show anything like the complaint alleges," Cavallo's attorney John Barnett said outside the courtroom Tuesday. "He committed no crime."

    Cavallo, and Hudson, along with their client, allegedly planned to extort Saudi sheik Monsur Albalwi, one of the country's wealthiest men, by falsely claiming that his son raped and tortured Ors in February, authorities said.

    The sheik's son Thamer Albalwi was arrested and charged with four counts of sexual assault March 13, authorities said.

    Ors was interviewed by authorities and claimed to have had photos on her cellphone of injuries suffered in the attack. She later refused to turn over the phone, according to the prosecution.

    In June, Ors attorneys called the sheik and asked for $20 million to be transferred to an account in Switzerland, prosecutors said.

    Albalwi provided telephone and credit card records, emails, text messages and surveillance video to the police to prove that Ors was lying, according to his attorneys.

    Attorney Alan Jackson said that Superior Court Judge James R. Dabney issued a rare finding of "factual innocence" concurring with the district attorney's office that that "Albalwi was falsely accused of sexually assaulting a woman visiting him in Los Angeles."

    "I prayed that the truth would come out and, thanks to the American justice system, it did," Thamer Albalwi said in a statement released by the law firm representing him, Brown White & Newhouse LLP.

    City News Service contributed to this report.

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