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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | COUNTYWIDE

Extortionist Given Year of Incarceration

July 20, 1999|PAMELA J. JOHNSON

A U.S. District Court judge on Monday sentenced a Ventura computer programmer convicted of extortion to one year of incarceration.

Robert Carl Johnson, 50, was ordered by Chief Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. in Los Angeles to spend six months in a federal prison and six months in a community corrections center. Johnson pleaded guilty in January to mailing a threatening extortion letter demanding $500,000 to the son of a prominent Ojai farmer.

The typewritten letter was mailed on Oct. 19 to Mandalay Bay resident Eric Huntsinger, who is the son of Carl Huntsinger, a citrus farmer, and the grandson of Fritz Huntsinger Sr., the founder of Vetco Offshore, an international oil drilling company.

The letter told Eric Huntsinger to wrap the money in a pillowcase and place it in a field near Oxnard. If he did not comply, his family would receive "serious retaliation of a permanent nature," according to the letter.

Huntsinger called Oxnard police, who notified the FBI. Officials from those agencies, as well as the Ventura Police Department and the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, stood by while Huntsinger complied with the letter's demands.

On Oct. 23, Johnson arrived at the described rural location and picked up a bag he believed contained money. He was arrested shortly after.

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