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Comedian Target of Alleged Extortion

Courts: Man is charged with threatening to expose Louie Anderson's reputed sexual request.

April 14, 2000|DAVID ROSENZWEIG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Arizona man has been charged with trying to extort $250,000 from Louie Anderson, host of television's "Family Feud" game show, by threatening to tell the tabloids that the entertainer once offered him money for sexual favors.

Richard John Gordon, 31, was taken into custody Tuesday after leading FBI agents on a Westside chase, during which he allegedly threw two loaded pistols out the window. Citing Gordon's possession of weapons and the chase at up to 80 mph on crowded Santa Monica Boulevard, Federal Magistrate Brian Q. Robbins ordered the defendant held without bond Thursday.

According to an FBI affidavit, Gordon had been blackmailing Anderson since 1997, when he sent the entertainer a letter seeking a "settlement so your secrets don't get out and blow your career."

Anderson could not be reached for comment, but his publicist issued a statement saying, "Being a target of criminal activity is an unfortunate and increasingly common byproduct of celebrity."

Gordon's letter described a casual encounter in 1993 at a South Bay casino, followed by a conversation in which Anderson allegedly asked Gordon to go home with him, take off his clothes and let Anderson "touch" him. Anderson then changed his mind, the letter said, deciding he just wanted to see Gordon disrobe, but Gordon refused.

Prosecutors said Gordon then made calls to Anderson's friend and manager, James Gitar, in Minnesota, in which he demanded $200,000. In negotiations that ensued, Gordon allegedly agreed to accept only $100,000. A handwritten contract to that effect was drawn up at a meeting between Gitar and Gordon in Tempe, Ariz., Oct. 25, 1997.

"In exchange for Rich Gordon's life story, Louie Anderson, as represented by Jim Gitar, agrees to pay the total sum of $100,000," said an excerpt cited in the affidavit.

The arrangement called for Anderson to pay $50,000 that month and the rest in monthly installments until 2003. Anderson made regular payments until October 1998, prosecutors said, when Gordon proposed to write off the rest of the "contract" for $25,000.

But this March, Gordon demanded $250,000 more in a note faxed to Gitar, the affidavit says. Anderson then went to the FBI, prosecutors said. In phone calls monitored by federal agents this month, Gordon allegedly told Gitar and Anderson that he felt shortchanged in the original negotiations.

In another call, Gordon directed Gitar to deliver the $250,000 to him in Arizona or Las Vegas because he did not feel safe in Los Angeles.

But Gordon relented and agreed to come to L.A. An undercover FBI agent posing as Anderson's representative gave Gordon the check Tuesday morning at a Westside restaurant. Confronted by two FBI agents as he departed, Gordon jumped into a pickup driven by Matthew David Auten, 31, of Laveen, Ariz., who is charged with crossing state lines to aid in a crime.

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