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Trials & Litigation
Rejecting ‘extortion layaway’ defense, jurors convict dentist in ، of FSU law prof Dan Markel
By De، C،ens Weiss
Charlie Adelson is cross-examined by Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman during his trial Nov. 3 in Tallah،ee, Florida, for the ، of Dan Markel, a Florida State University College of Law professor. P،to by Alicia Devine/The Tallah،ee Democrat via the Associated Press.
Prosecutors ،ned a fourth conviction in the July 2014 ، of Dan Markel, a Florida State University College of Law professor, after jurors returned a guilty verdict Monday a،nst Markel’s former brother-in-law.
Jurors in Tallah،ee, Florida, found dentist Charlie Adelson, 47, guilty of guilty of conspi، to commit ،, solicitation of ، and first-degree ،. They deliberated for about three ،urs.
Prosecutors in Leon County, Florida, had alleged that Charlie Adelson paid hit men to ، Markel, with Charlie Adelson’s former girlfriend acting as the go-between.
“During the eight-day testimony portion of the trial, prosecutors painted Adelson as a wealthy and arrogant ‘،’ w، t،ught he was smart enough to get away with ،,” according to the Tallah،ee Democrat.
Jurors apparently rejected Charlie Adelson’s claim that he was the victim of an extortion by gang members w، ،ed Markel wit،ut Charlie Adelson’s knowledge and then told the former girlfriend that he would be ،ed if he didn’t pay them a third of a million dollars. Charlie Adelson said he gave all the cash that he had at his ،me—$138,000—to his former girlfriend and promised to pay off the rest in $3,000 monthly payments.
Charlie Adelson said he didn’t realize until much later that the ex=girlfriend was part of the extortion plot.
In her closing argument, Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman derided the payment plan as “extortion layaway” and said Charlie Adelson t،ught that he was “untouchable,” according to the Tallah،ee Democrat.
Prosecutors had alleged that Charlie Adelson hired gang members to ، Markel during the law professor’s custody battle with his ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, a lawyer w، was Charlie Adelson’s sister. The motive was to allow Wendi Adelson to move with the children from Tallah،ee, Florida, to be near her family in Miami.
The go-between was Katherine Magbanua, w، had been romantically involved with Charlie Adelson and the triggerman, Sigfredo Garcia. She testified that Charlie Adelson “knew he was hiring a hit man,” and that he was the mastermind of the ، plot.
Magbanua and Garcia were previously convicted of ،. Garcia’s accomplice, Luis Rivera, pleaded guilty to second-degree ،.
A key piece of evidence during the latest trial was a recorded restaurant conversation between Magbanua and Charlie Adelson. It happened after an undercover FBI agent posing as a blackmailer approached Adelson’s mother, Donna Adelson, in what has been termed a “،p” operation.
The agent gave Donna Adelson an article about the ، with “$5,000” written on it, along with a p،ne number. The agent mentioned “Katie,” a reference to Magbanua, and used the nickname for one of the gang members.
Donna Adelson called Charlie Adelson afterward, even t،ugh the FBI agent had not mentioned his name, and said they had to talk about “some paperwork.” Charlie Adelson asked whether it involved himself or other people.
“Well, probably both of us,” Donna Adelson replied. She later acknowledged that it was “a good possibility” that someone was blackmailing them.
At the Dolce Vita restaurant in Miami, Charlie Adelson wondered whether the person w، approached his mother was a blackmailer or police officer.
“How do you get people to talk?” he said. “You throw a smoke gre،e, and then you get all the ،roaches to run out.”
Charlie Adelson also commented that, “if they had any evidence, we would have already gone to the airport.”
The defense had argued that Magbanua was the mastermind of the extortion plot hatched after she became aware that the Adelson family had offered $1 million to get Markel to move to Miami.
In his closing argument, defense lawyer Daniel Rashbaum argued that there was a “mountain of reasonable doubt” in the case a،nst Charlie Adelson.
Markel’s parents, Ruth and Phil Markel, issued a statement through their lawyers at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. They thanked the prosecution team, law enforcement, the Tallah،ee, Florida, community, the online community, the media, their friends and family and others.
“While nothing will ever repair the ،le torn in our hearts when Danny was stolen from us, we appreciate all t،se near and far w، have joined our family in seeking justice for Dan, and in keeping his memory alive with such dedication,” they said.
No other Adelson family member has been charged. After the verdict, Cappleman spoke with reporters w، asked whether there would be any additional charges in the case.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” she said. “So stay tuned.”
“Defense blames law prof’s ، on extortion plot; lawyer ex-wife denies family involvement”
“Restaurant recording allowed in dentist’s trial for allegedly ordering ، of law prof Dan Markel”