L.A. lawyers charged with shaking down Saudi sheik for millions

July 23

Leyla Ors, hidden behind a German interpreter during her arraignment at a Los Angeles criminal courts on July 15, 2014. (EPA/Irfan Khan / POOL)

Son of a Saudi sheik. Convicted lawyer. Track and field Agent. Personal assistant falsely crying rape.

Put those four people in the same room and you’ll get a story involving alleged extortion, assault, blackmail and $15 million. Not exactly in that order.

The only thing missing is some actual track and field.

Last week in Los Angeles, three people were charged in an alleged plot to extort $20 million from a very rich Saudi sheik — Thamer Albalwi.

Leyla Ors, 33, Joseph Cavallo, 58, and Emanuel Hudson, 58, are charged with attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to receive a bribe and conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney. If convicted, they could face prison sentences of up to four years. Ors and Cavallo have pleaded not guilty. Hudson has not been arraigned.

So who are these people and what’s going on?

Leyla Ors, 33, is a German national of Turkish descent who worked for Thamer Albalwi as a personal assistant. She first met him on a family trip to Vienna, when she was his family’s guide around the city. Earlier this year — soon after she became his assistant — she claimed the 23-year-old Saudi had raped, tortured and imprisoned her in his tony Wilshire Boulevard high-rise condominium. Although she had physical evidence of cigarette burns, she was unwilling to turn over her cellphone.

Thamer Albalwi is the son of Saudi Sheik Monsur Albalwi, described by prosecutors as “one of the wealthiest men in Saudi Arabia.” The 23-year-old moved to the United States last year to study English. After Ors alleged he raped and abused her, he was arrested and charged with four counts of sexual assault based on her allegations, a physical exam and visible injuries. Soon after, he posted $3 million for his bond and hired an American lawyer. That American lawyer, Alan Jackson, soon began collecting cell phone records, e-mails and text messages to prove Albalwi’s innocence, said the Times.

Joseph Cavallo is Ors’s lawyer — and he represented her during the criminal proceedings against Albalwi. He was once convicted of felony “capping,” which is illegally paying bail bond agents to steer clients to his firm. He avoided prison time, but lost and regained his license.

Emanuel Hudson is a lawyer and one of track and field’s top sporting agents. The Web site for his company, HSI International, claims he represents retired Olympic athletes Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Ato Boldon and English Gardner, the 2013 U.S. 100m Women’s champion, the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee and, as it happens, members of the Saudi royal family.

So how did he get into this mess? Hudson is Ors’s other lawyer. He allegedly called Albalwi’s father — the sheik — and told him Leyla would drop the charges for $15 million, “in an account outside of America, ‘Leyla would not testify … case would be over,’” the complaint said. On the same day, Cavallo allegedly made the same offer, except he wanted $20 million.

It turns out Ors’s rape allegations were false. A judge threw out all charges against Albalwi more than a week ago, citing factual evidence that supports his innocence. “I prayed that the truth would come out,” Albalwi said in a statement last week,  according to the Times, “and, thanks to the American justice system, it did.”

The sheik turned it over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney. The trio found themselves facing four new charges. Ors and Cavallo were arraigned on July 15 and Hudson will be arranged on July 31.

Despite all the drama Albalwi has experienced in America, he plans to stay in the country to improve his English. He said he might even get a four-year degree.

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