LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A German man has been charged with trying to extort $100,000 from former supermodel Cindy Crawford and her husband over a photo of their daughter gagged and bound to a chair, authorities said.
Edis Kayalar, the man at the center of the probe, was charged in federal court in Los Angeles on Thursday, but he was recently deported back to Germany and has not been arrested.
The photo was apparently snapped by the then 7-year-old’s nanny as a private joke when she was playing “cops and robbers” with the girl, and it came into the hands of Kayalar, who was the nanny’s friend, according to court documents.
This past summer, Kayalar contacted Crawford and her husband Rande Gerber, who did not know about the photo, and sought to use it to get money from them, saying tabloids would pay a lot, the court papers said.
The couple contacted authorities, prompting Los Angeles police to launch a criminal probe.
Kayalar was arrested in September and deported to Germany for being in the country illegally, but earlier this month he again phoned Crawford and Gerber and demanded $100,000, which lead to him being charged with extortion.
U.S. authorities said they are in contact with German officials about the case. Kayalar faces up to two years in prison if returned to the United States and convicted.
In a statement, a publicist for Crawford said that she and her husband “intend to pursue any and all available legal action against anyone who aids the perpetrator in the distribution or sale of the photograph of their daughter.”
Celebrity Web site TMZ.com reported that it was approached about six weeks ago by a man it believed was Kayalar. He offered to sell the photo, but TMZ passed.
Crawford, 43, who has been married to Gerber since 1998, has been on the cover of hundreds of magazine titles worldwide, and this year she launched a home style collection.
She also starred in the 1995 film “Fair Game,” and more recently has appeared in several television shows.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Jackie Frank