January 11, 2008 / 1:24 AM / 10 years ago

Probation for man in Tom Cruise photo extortion bid

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A computer technician involved in a bid to extort $1.3 million from Tom Cruise for copies of the actor’s stolen wedding photographs was sentenced on Thursday to two years probation.

Marc Lewis Gittleman, 34, pleaded guilty in September to a charge of transporting stolen property.

According to court documents, he kept more than 7,000 copies of photos of Cruise’s 2006 wedding in Italy to actress Katie Holmes after a photographer brought a damaged computer hard drive to him for repair.

Appearing in federal court in Los Angeles on Thursday, Gittleman was given two years probation and fined $3,000.

Gittleman, who has no criminal record, expressed remorse, telling the court: “I brought unimaginable shame upon myself and my family. I’ll be working the rest of my life to make it right.”

He has written a letter apologizing to Cruise, who was not in court for Thursday’s sentencing.

After copying the wedding photos, Gittleman contacted Arizona resident David Hans Schmidt, dubbed the “Sultan of Sleaze” because of his reputation for peddling celebrity porn.

Schmidt was arrested last July and accused of demanding $1.3 million from Cruise to keep the photos private.

Schmidt committed suicide at his home in Phoenix, Arizona in September, two weeks before he was due to enter a guilty plea for his part in the attempted extortion.

Cruise, star of “Mission Impossible” and “Top Gun,” is one of Hollywood’s richest stars. His November 2006 wedding to Holmes at an Italian castle was one of the biggest celebrity events of that year.


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