DOCUMENT: Celebrity, Crime

Arrests In Stamos Extortion Plot

FBI: Pair sought $680,000 payoff for actor's party photos

John Stamos

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Arrests In John Stamos Extortion Plot

DECEMBER 7--Actor John Stamos was the target of an extortion plot allegedly hatched by a pair of Michigan residents who threatened to release photographs that would harm his reputation unless they were paid nearly $700,000, The Smoking Gun has learned.

According to this FBI affidavit, the photos were taken at a party in Florida, where Stamos was vacationing. While the extortion victim is only identified in the U.S. District Court document as "Mr. X, an actor," TSG has confirmed that Stamos, 46, was the shakedown target.

Agents last week arrested Allison Coss, 23, and Scott Sippola, 30, in connection with the extortion plot. According to the affidavit sworn by FBI Agent Leslie Hahn, "Mr. X" attended a party with Coss and her friend in 2004, and "photographs of him were taken" during the bash. Since the party, the actor has maintained e-mail contact with Coss via her Hotmail account.

Last month, Stamos--who starred in TV's "Full House" and "ER" and currently appears in "Bye Bye Birdie" on Broadway--received several e-mails from a man identifying himself as "Brian L," and who claimed to have "discovered the pictures taken during the 2004 party in Florida, and that such pictures would cause harm to Mr. X's reputation if released to the media." The man demanded a $680,000 payoff.

Coss, Hahn noted, "continued to communicate with Mr. X and was fully aware of the demands being made by 'Brian L.'" The nature of the party photos is not described further by Hahn. After Stamos's lawyer contacted the FBI on November 28, agents began surveilling Coss and a male companion, who was later identified as Sippola. The alleged extortionists were arrested last Wednesday shortly after an undercover agent, "posing as a representative of Mr. X," arranged with "Brian L" a money drop at a Princeton, Michigan airport.

During a subsequent search of a home shared by Coss and Sippola--who worked together at a Marquette nightclub--agents recovered three photos of "Mr. X," a piece of paper which contained the actor's cell phone number, and a piece of paper with the names and phone numbers of three tabloid magazines. Coss and Sippola, pictured at left and in these mug shots, were released on bond last Wednesday and ordered to have no contact with "the alleged victim." (6 pages)