The two Marquette residents convicted of trying to extort $680,000 from actor John Stamos will spend the next four years in prison.
The Marquette Federal court was near capacity Friday morning for the sentencing in a case that has drawn national attention.
For about 90 minutes, the prosecution and defense presented factors to be considered in the defendants' sentencing.
Judge R. Allen Edgar made the final decision--four years in federal prison for both Allison Coss and Scott Sippola--and said he didn't think the alleged, compromising photos of John Stamos ever existed; the defense never produced them.
Further, the judge said it was "ludicrous" to consider the trading of the non-existent photos for $680,000 as a business deal. It was extortion, plain and simple.
Given the chance, would Allison Coss and Scott Sippola try to extort money from John Stamos again? It was a question that sparked heated debate in the Federal courtroom.
The defense declined to speak to Upper Michigan's Source on camera but suggested in court that clean criminal records and dozens of character letters proved the two defendants were good citizens who had gotten in over their heads.
The prosecution, however, said the couple knew what they were doing and and were driven by greed.
"It's reasonable for them to know that blackmail, using threats to someone's reputation to get them to pay you money, that's the common understanding of blackmail, that is illegal," says Prosecuting Attorney Maarten Vermaat. "(Coss) has a criminal justice degree from Northern Michigan University. It's hard to claim that you don't know anything about the law and you don't know anything about the situation when you have that background."
In a statement read by the prosecuting attorney in court, Stamos said the pair had "turned the courtroom into a circus" and "the behavior was deeply hurtful to me and my family."
Ultimately Judge R. Allen Edgar said the amount of money involved and the crime itself led to the four-year sentences.
"It's always sad to see someone from our area get caught up in something like this," Vermaat said. "But as the judge said, this was a crime that was driven by greed. These people were greedy; this was a get rich quick scheme, and it was based on lies and betrayal."
Along with Sippola's four-year sentence, he will have two years of supervised release, and he's being fined $15,000.
Coss, along with a four-year sentence, will have one year supervised release and must pay $300 in court fees.
Allison Coss was in tears when the sentence was read. Both were taken immediately into custody.
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