A woman was found guilty of trying to extort millions of dollars from Celine Dion’s husband with a threat to go public with a rape allegation.
A Clark County District Court jury deliberated five hours Thursday before convicting Yun Kyeong Kwon Sung, 49, of conspiracy to commit extortion and bribery.
Sung faces probation or up to 16 years in state prison at sentencing Dec. 16, a court official said Friday. She remained in custody at the Clark County jail.
A prosecutor had portrayed Sung as a greedy woman who reneged on a $2 million confidentiality agreement reached after she alleged that the singer’s husband, Rene Angelil, fondled her in March 2000.
Angelil’s lawyer insisted the money and an apology were not an admission of guilt, but were made out of Angelil’s concern for his and his wife’s health and public images, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Facing criminal prosecution for almost $1 million in unpaid gambling debts to Las Vegas casinos, Sung and husband Ae Ho Kwon hired new lawyers to seek more money from Angelil, Clark County prosecutor L.J. O’Neale said.
During a 2003 meeting secretly recorded by police, the couple’s lawyers, Joseph Hong and Michael Olsen, told Angelil’s lawyer their clients probably would take the rape allegations to the media if they weren’t paid $13.5 million.
Sung and Kwon were arrested walking out of the meeting. Kwon is due for trial Jan. 10 on similar charges. Sung faces deportation on a separate federal immigration charge.
Hong and Olsen weren’t charged in the case, and avoided testifying by invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Sung and her husband waited two years to file a police report of their claim that Angelil raped Sung in March 2000 in her room at the Imperial Palace hotel-casino.
Angelil denied the allegation.
Police declined to take the case forward after Sung and Kwon refused in 2002 to turn over as evidence a garment they claimed was stained with Angelil’s body fluids.
The three-day trial did not explore the rape claim.
Dion, the 36-year-old, Grammy-winning singer, performs a show at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.