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A photographer who took topless pictures of Cameron Diaz before she became a star was convicted of forgery, attempted grand theft and perjury Monday for a scheme to sell the images back to the actress 11 years later for millions of dollars.
Photographer John Rutter, 42, faces up to six years in prison. Sentencing was set for Sept. 15.
Diaz was a 19-year-old aspiring model when the pictures were taken in 1992. She posed in leather boots and fishnet stockings in a warehouse for the shoot and at one point held a chain attached to a male model’s neck.
During the nearly two-week trial, Rutter told jurors he thought Diaz had signed a release form giving him ownership of the photos. He said he didn’t realize the signature was forged when he offered to sell the photos to Diaz for $3.5 million shortly before the 2003 release of “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.”
Rutter told the jury he was simply giving Diaz “right of first refusal” before offering the photos to prospective buyers worldwide.
Diaz testified that Rutter told her the buyers were “going to use this against you” by portraying her as a “bad angel” in magazine, bus and billboard ads. When he wouldn’t identify the purported buyers, she suspected blackmail and contacted authorities.
Rutter’s attempted theft charge was for the alleged blackmail scheme, forgery for the signature on the form and perjury for declaring in a separate civil case that the signature was authentic. That civil case is pending.
Judge Michael E. Pastor revoked the photographer’s bail and ordered him taken into custody, agreeing with prosecutors that Rutter was a flight risk. He also told the lawyers to discuss restitution for Diaz.
Defense attorney Mark Werksman said his client was devastated and was in no position to pay restitution.
“This was an epic battle between a rich and famous celebrity and a hardworking photographer,” Werksman said. He maintained that Rutter tried to the right thing by offering the photos to Diaz first.
Diaz, who was not in court to hear the verdict, later issued a statement: “Although I wish that this unfortunate situation hadn’t occurred in the first place, I am very gratified that justice has been served.”