Jul 27, 2007

Man arrested for trying to blackmail Tom Cruise

LOS ANGELES - An Arizona man who allegedly demanded more than $1 million not to publish Tom Cruise's stolen wedding photographs has been arrested, the actor's lawyer said Thursday.
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David Hans Schmidt, known for brokering deals involving compromising celebrity photos and videos, approached Cruise's representatives about six weeks ago with photos from the actor's Italian wedding last year to Katie Holmes, attorney Bertram Fields said. The FBI was contacted.

"He was looking for money, lots of money," Fields said.

Schmidt, 47, was arrested

by federal agents Tuesday, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. She said the criminal complaint charging Schmidt was under seal in federal court and refused to comment.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, said a judge set bond at $100,000. Schmidt was being held Thursday at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles, according to jail records.

It was not immediately clear if Schmidt had a lawyer or how he obtained the photos.

Schmidt has also been trying to auction off Paris Hilton's diaries, along with photos of her in various stages of undress and other personal items that had been locked away in a Los Angeles-area storage locker until a few months ago.

Hilton's publicist, Elliot Mintz, has said the belongings were "illegally seized" from the storage facility.

Over the years, Schmidt also has claimed to have brokered deals to sell a sex video of Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on "Saved by the Bell," and a video of former U.S. figure skater Tonya Harding's wedding night, according to published reports. He also claimed to have obtained topless shots of rescued U.S. Army prisoner of war Pfc. Jessica Lynch.

Associated Press writer Jeremiah Marquez contributed to this report.

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