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Second man held in alleged extortion plot against Cruise

July 28, 2007|Greg Krikorian | Times Staff Writer

FBI officials announced Friday that a second man has been arrested in connection with an alleged attempt to extort $1 million from actor Tom Cruise in exchange for returning thousands of stolen photographs of Cruise's private wedding in November to actress Katie Holmes.

The arrest of computer expert Marc Lewis Gittleman, 33, of Los Angeles came one day after authorities confirmed the arrest of David Hans Schmidt, 47, of Arizona for allegedly seeking money for the photographs from Cruise's representatives.

According to an FBI affidavit, Gittleman took possession of the pictures when he worked on a computer belonging to the wedding's authorized photographer.

Gittleman made a copy of the hard drive after discovering that it included some 7,600 photographs of the wedding, the affidavit states, and later contacted Schmidt through an Internet search to see what he could do with the photos.

Schmidt, who is known to be a broker of celebrity photographs, contacted Cruise's representatives in late May. He was arrested Tuesday after an undercover agent met with him and representatives of Cruise, allegedly to discuss payment for the photos, authorities said.

Gittleman was taken into custody Thursday.

Cruise's attorney, Bert Fields, said in an interview that his client was in Germany filming a movie and had not been contacted directly in the alleged extortion.

"What happened was this man contacted us with all these photographs and asked for a huge sum of money," Fields said. "We turned it over to the FBI immediately ... and did whatever they told us to do."

Fields said the actor "was not happy with the fact that these [wedding] photographs were being shopped around, because who ever took them stole them."

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greg.krikorian@latimes.com

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