Producer and director, Stephen Belafonte, and Spice Girl Melanie Brown have a daughter together. Belafonte just gave the LAPD an audiotape of someone trying to extort him for a million dollars while he goes through his divorce.Recorded on March 20, the phone call features a woman who tells Belafonte, ‘I’m gonna take you down’ unless she’s paid $500,000 within 48 hours, a fee that’s later upped to $1m.
The woman in the recording says:
‘I want a million bucks in my account in two days otherwise you’re f***ed, it’s your choice.
‘I swear to God I’m gonna talk so much sh*t about you, you have no idea, it’s your choice. And it’s gonna be really really bad.’
During the call, it is also alleged ‘people’ representing Belafonte’s estranged wife Mel B asked Contreras to take the ‘ugly’ story to the media.
In divorce, it is easy to cross the line from harmless threats to the crime of extortion. The fact remains that in Florida, it is a second-degree felony to threaten to expose another for the commission of any crime or offense for one’s own pecuniary advantage.
File this under how not to act in divorce, a subject that I’ve written about many times before: from not wearing Nazi uniforms into court, to not getting in fights with the judge.
There can be little doubt that if Belafonte’s allegations are true, and that a spouse was recorded threatening to disclose confidential information in exchange for money, Florida’s extortion statute could cover the kind of situation facing him.
Divorce & Extortion
Very often in divorce, it is very easy for a spouse to cross the line between idle threats and criminal extortion. How? There are several examples. One which comes to mind, is taxes. It is typical for spouses to threaten to report the other spouse to the IRS for underpayment of taxes unless money is paid to keep the silence.
Another very common extortion technique – which is especially true these days – is to issue a threat to report a spouse to immigration officials. One spouse will to use the threat of deportation unless money is paid in a settlement. This has become more common these days as the country cracks down on illegal immigration.
Extortion also happens when signing settlement agreements. For example, spouses sometimes threaten that if the other spouse does not sign the settlement agreement, the other spouse will tell the children about infidelity, or something else to ruin what reputation the spouse has.
Contreras – who has a 12-year-old daughter Giselle with Belafonte – has denied the recording is authentic.
‘This audio is clearly not me. Stephen is falsifying stories because I have told the press the truth,’ Contreras told TMZ.
An LAPD investigative report obtained by DailyMail.com echoes TMZ, stating Contreras called Belafonte at 10pm on March 20, which is also the day Mel B filed for divorce.
In the police report filed on Thursday, the officer completing the document wrote: ‘Susp called victim and demanded $1million deposited into her account or she would disclose personal information to media.’
The alleged audio tape is the latest revelation in Mel B and Stephen Belafonte’s messy divorce proceedings, which has played out in the tabloid media since the former Spice Girl filed for divorce on March 20, citing ‘irreconcilable differences.
The Metro article is available here.