April 3, 2001
(LOS ANGELES) – A California lawyer has been convicted of an extortion attempt aimed at Erin Brockovich, the paralegal plsyed by Julia Roberts in an Academy Award-winning performance.
After three days of deliberations, a jury agreed that John Reiner, 53, demanded money from Brockovich and lawyer Ed Masry in exchange for keeping quiet about allegations that they were having an affair. Prosecutors also said that Reiner threatened to publicize his claims that Brockovich neglected her children.
Reiner denied extortion, arguing that he represented Brockovich’s ex-husband, Shawn Brown, and her former boyfriend, Jorg Halaby, in a legitimate claim on Universal Pictures, which released “Erin Brockovich.” Charges against Brown and Halaby were dropped before trial.
Brockovich, working for Masry, helped win a multi-million-dollar settlement in a suit over dumping of hazardous chemicals. They denied any sexual relationship.