'Evil Elmo' Arrested for Girl Scout Extortion

By Brett Snider, Esq. on June 06, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A man who dressed up as as "Evil Elmo" was charged with attempting to extort the Girl Scouts on Wednesday after an arrest in May landed this infamous impersonator in jail.

The man behind the "evil" Sesame Street costume, Dan Sandler, pleaded not guilty to extortion and other charges based on allegations that he'd attempted to harass and blackmail the Girl Scouts by email and voicemail to the tune of $2 million, reports the Associated Press.

While some may question the mental state of a man who dresses up as "Evil Elmo," what is his potential liability if he's convicted of sending eccentric emails?

Blackmail by Email

Sandler allegedly told a Girl Scouts supervisor via email that he wanted "a two million dollar cash settlement" or else he would spread rumors of sex abuse in the organization, reports the AP.

New York's extortion laws make it illegal to attempt to obtain money or property by threatening that the blackmailer or a third party will:

  • Physically hurt someone in the future;
  • Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to ridicule or contempt; or
  • Accuse some person of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against him.

The manic antics of "Evil Elmo" in allegedly sending those emails demanding money in exchange for his silence, even if by email, would seem to be extortion under the New York laws.

Grand Larceny?

Despite the fact that Sandler didn't receive a penny of the $2 million dollars he demanded, he is still being charged with grand larceny.

New York, like many states, charges criminals when they have the intent to commit a crime but cannot successfully complete it. In such cases, the state may sometimes offer a lesser sentence.

With Sandler's grand larceny charge, New York law will typically reduce the severity of the punishment by one degree for an attempted version of that crime.

Held on $200K Bail

After Sandler pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to the extortion charges, the judge ordered him to be held on $200,000 bail, according to the AP.

Bail amounts are often set based on the severity of the offense, the dangerous nature of the defendant, and the likelihood that he will return to court.

In this case, it seems that "Evil Elmo" -- who was better known for his anti-Semitic rant in Manhattan a year ago for which he was sentenced to two days of community service, according to New York's WPIX-TV -- will be spending some time in adult time out.

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