Ono's chauffeur indicted, denied bail


NEW YORK - Yoko Ono's chauffeur was indicted on Tuesday on four counts of first-degree attempted grand larceny, accused of trying to extort $2 million from John Lennon's widow.

Koral Karsan, 50, pleaded not guilty in Manhattan State Supreme Court to the charges that he threatened to release embarrassing audio tapes and photos of Ono and kill her if she did not pay.

Justice Michael Ambrecht remanded the Turkish immigrant in custody after the bail hearing revealed that U.S. immigration authorities had issued a "detainer" for him, "given his ties abroad and the immigration issues that have now been raised."

Assistant District Attorney Anne Schwartz told the judge that if Karsan were to make bail, he would be taken into immediate custody by immigration officials and that "it would be hard to get him back, if not impossible."

"He is in this country illegally," she said. "It is clear that the defendant has been plotting and planning to commit some sort of crime against the victim."

The extortion attempt seeking $2 million came in a letter sent to Ono on December 8, the 26th anniversary of the murder of Lennon, a former Beatle.

Karsan's lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, accused Ono of "illegal acts" for violating federal and state tax laws by paying Karsan as an independent contractor when he was a full-time employee.

Gottlieb also said he received a letter from Ono's attorney threatening legal action should Karsan "discuss anything regarding his employment, and that he better watch out."

Karsan is due back in court on January 11.