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Publisher allegedly extorts sex-crime suspect

Police say they've uncovered a bizarre extortion plot in south Orange County.

October 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police say they've uncovered a bizarre extortion plot in south Orange County. The target: the family of a man who's been in jail, charged with sex crimes.

Javad Mostafavi, 70, has owned the Persian American magazine called Payam-e-Ashena for more than 20 years. But he allegedly threatened to publish on the front cover landed him in jail, charged with extortion. He allegedly made threats by phone and email. He's facing a felony charge of extortion.

Police allege Mostafavi tried to extort money from the wife of Saeid Maralan, a 53-year-old sex offender suspected of assaulting women in his rug store in Laguna Beach.

"He [Mostafavi] told her [Maralan's wife] that if she paid him $3,000, he wouldn't put her husband on the cover of the magazine that's distributed throughout the Persian community," said Laguna Beach Police Lt. Jason Kravetz.

Police say Maralan's wife ignored Mostafavi, until he allegedly emailed her a mockup of the magazine cover with her husband's booking photo on it. She then went to police.

Authorities say Mostafavi initially claimed the $3,000 was money Maralan owed him for past advertising in the magazine, but he could not prove it. Police arrested Mostafavi at his home in Irvine.

The extortion allegation comes as the district attorney filed additional sex charges against Maralan, now accused of sexual assaulting 11 women.

Sympathy for the Maralans' situation was hard to find in the close-knit community of Laguna Beach that's watched the drama unfold.

"That's always unfortunate. That's obviously unprofessional on the gentleman with the magazine's part, of course," said Laguna Beach resident Heidi Miller. "But it's an ongoing story so I don't feel sorry -- there's another chapter into this and I'll be glad when the book's finally closed."

If convicted, Mostafavi could face a minimum sentence of up to one year in jail.

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