Stevie Wonder’s cousin and co-defendant sentenced to 292 days each for extortion scheme
Alpha Lorenzo Walker and Tamara Eileen Diaz
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—A cousin of Stevie Wonder and a female co-defendant were sentenced Monday to 292 days in county jail after pleading no contest to charges that they tried to extort millions of dollars from the singer.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan also ordered Alpha Lorenzo Walker, 38, to attend mental health sessions at least twice a week during his three-year probation.
Co-defendant Tamara Eileen Diaz, also 38, must complete 78 Narcotics Anonymous classes, completing at least three sessions per week, and was also placed on three years formal probation.
Walker and Diaz were both ordered to stay away from Wonder, his family and his co-workers while on probation.
The singer’s attorney, William Joseph Briggs II, previously testified that he met Walker at a coffee shop near his Century City law office, and Diaz “hovered in the background” as Walker began to show him a videotape that included footage depicting conditions at the vacant former residence of Wonder’s deceased mother.
“Mr. Walker said he wanted $5 million,” Briggs said during the defendants’ trial, telling the judge that Walker also made some derogatory statements about the sexual history of Wonder’s mother and said the singer would be “extremely embarrassed” if the tape was released.
He said he recognized Diaz’s voice as that of the woman who had left a voicemail in April about the tape.
The attorney—who said he contacted the Los Angeles Police Department about what he believed was an extortion plot—testified that he subsequently told Walker the singer was “outraged by the $5 million demand” and that Walker subsequently agreed to a $500,000 payment with $10,000 in cash to be paid up-front.
Walker and Diaz each signed a confidentiality agreement before the $10,000—provided by law enforcement—was turned over and the two were arrested May 2 in Century City, Briggs testified.
Los Angeles police Detective Tracey Benjamin testified that the video “shows him (Walker) for the most part taunting” Wonder, who was referred to in court by his given name Stevland Morris, and mocking the condition of the home that had belonged to the singer’s mother.
“It was very hurtful to him that Mr. Walker was even doing this,” the police detective said during trial, noting the singer maintained that Walker’s allegations were untrue and that he told police he wanted the case to be prosecuted.
A list recovered from Diaz’s purse following her arrest detailed some of the things that would be done with the money, and she told police that she worked as a legal assistant, Benjamin said.
HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—The Funk Brothers, the 13-member band who performed the backing vocals to most Motown recordings from 1959 to 1972, will receive the 2,493rd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today.
Stevie Wonder, Ray Parker Jr. and music producer Mickey Stevenson are set to speak at the 11:30 a.m. ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard, across from Live Nation, along with band members Jack Ashford and Eddie Willis.
This year's Billboard Music Awards should be a funky good time, thanks to the magazine's decision to recognize Prince with the Billboard Icon Award.
Prince will receive the honor on May 19 during the ceremony's live broadcast from Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena that will air on ABC. The hit-maker is also expected to offer a performance during the show.
Last year, Stevie Wonder received the Icon Award, which was presented with a tribute led by Alicia Keys.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A man in his early 20s suffered life-threatening wounds to his upper back this morning in a shooting in the Leimert Park, police said.
The shooting in the 3800 block of Third Avenue, near 39th Street, was reported around 12:20 a.m., said Lt. H. Fanfassian, watch commander of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Southwest Station.
The victim, who was hospitalized “in extremely serious condition,” did not provide police details of the shooting or a suspect description, Fanfassian said.
INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Los Angeles County probation officers asked for help today in finding a parolee who threatened to kill school children.
Frank Edward Edmonds, 40, who authorities consider “extremely violent and an imminent public threat,” may be in Compton, South Los Angeles or Inglewood, his last known address.
Two “Saturday Night Live” sets, an Instagram snapshot and 66 projector images later, we now have a better picture of what’s to come on Kanye West’s anticipated new album.
As promised, the rapper — not to be confused with a celebrity — didn’t take part in any of the skits for “SNL’s” season finale/swan song for cast member Bill Hader. But he didn’t need to — over the course of two songs, West still left a lasting impression.