A man who agreed to plead guilty in a plot to extort more than $1 million from Tom Cruise for the actor’s stolen wedding photos was found dead in his home, authorities said.
Investigators said it appeared David Hans Schmidt, 47, who was under house arrest and faced up to two years in federal prison, had committed suicide.
He was found dead in his townhouse around 3 p.m. Friday after police noticed a tracker placed on him had not moved and he had not checked in, said Lt. Anthony Lopez.
His attorney, Nancy Kardon, said she had spoken to Schmidt earlier this week and was preparing for an Oct. 11 hearing in federal court where he would enter his formal guilty plea to attempted extortion. She said she had planned to ask for probation.
“I was greatly saddened by his loss and I found him to be a very kind man,” Kardon said Saturday.
Starting in May, Schmidt had repeated contact with Cruise representatives and threatened to release the photos if he didn’t receive between $1.2 and $1.3 million, authorities said.
Schmidt also tried to auction off Paris Hilton’s diaries, along with photos of her in various stages of undress and other personal items that had been locked away in a Los Angeles-area storage locker until a few months ago.
He also claimed to have brokered deals to sell a sex video of Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on “Saved by the Bell,” and a video of skater Tonya Harding’s wedding night, according to published reports. He also claimed to have obtained topless shots of rescued U.S. Army POW Pfc. Jessica Lynch.