Smurfs importer takes plea in extortion case

Stuart Ross pleads guilty, avoids jail in $11 mil blackmail deal

Disgraced Manhattan businessman Stuart Ross, who as a producer introduced the Smurfs to America in the 1980s, is feeling a little blue now that he's facing the legal repercussions of attempting to blackmail his son-in-law for millions, according to a report in the New York Post.

The former media mogul pled guilty to attempted grand larceny and accepted a no-jail plea this morning in a Manhattan courtroom. Ross' charges stem from an extortion case in which Ross tried to swindle upwards of $11 million from businessman David Blitzer, who is married to Ross' daughter and is the senior managing director of the Blackstone Group.

Court records reveal that Blitzer and his Blackstone bosses were victimized by threatening emails and phone calls from Ross, who reportedly threatened to expose family and business secrets and smear Blitzer's name if his demands for cash were not met.

Ross' plea this morning helped him avoid a possible maximum prison term of up to seven years. Instead, he was handed a two- to three-year probation and will avoid jail completely if he undergoes psychiatric and alcohol treatment and agrees to have no contact with his daughter, Blitzer, their children and the Blackstone Group.

Although Ross once owned the North American rights to the Smurfs, which earned him millions, a series of bad investments led to him being unable to post $200,000 bail when he was indicted two years ago. Ross was released today, but his lawyer, Stuart Jackson, an accused middleman in the extortion deal, remains charged as Ross' co-defendant in the case.
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