Man sentenced in Cruise extortion try

Other News Materials 11 January 2008 08:09 (UTC +04:00)

A man who tried to extort $1.3 million from Tom Cruise in exchange for stolen wedding photographs of the actor and Katie Holmes was sentenced to two years probation Thursday.

Marc Lewis Gittleman, 34, also was fined $3,000. He pleaded guilty Sept. 21 to interstate transportation of stolen property.

Gittleman, a computer technician, told the court he was sorry.

"I brought unimaginable shame upon myself and my family," Gittleman said. "I'll be working the rest of my life to make it right."

Gittleman had no prior criminal record and is receiving counseling for depression, his attorney Richard Hirsch said. Hirsch described the crime as an impulsive act that showed "colossal bad judgment."

U.S. District Judge George King and attorneys for both sides agreed that a prison sentence was not needed.

Gittleman wrote a letter of apology to Cruise's attorney, Hirsch said. Cruise was not in court.

Court documents show Gittleman obtained thousands of photos from a damaged hard drive that was brought to his workplace by a photographer.

He then contacted David Hans Schmidt, 47, who was known for peddling nude photos and sex tapes of celebrities, and e-mailed Cruise demanding $1.3 million to keep the pictures private. Cruise's representatives called authorities, who set up a sting operation to catch Gittleman and Schmidt.

Schmidt pleaded guilty to transmitting threatening communications with intent to extort. He hanged himself in September. ( AP )