Yoko Ono’s former driver, who pleaded guilty to trying to extort money from her, can leave the United States voluntarily rather than be deported, a federal immigration judge decided Wednesday.
Koral Karsan can return to his native Turkey without further legal proceedings under an order signed by Judge Alan Vomacka. Karsan must leave the U.S. by April 13. He has a plane ticket to Turkey for March 23, lawyer Jonathan Avirom said.
The voluntary departure resulted from an agreement between Avirom and Department of Homeland Security attorney Victor Yee. It makes Karsan’s re-entry into the United States less difficult than if he were deported.
Karsan, 50, was arrested in December and accused of trying to blackmail Ono, widow of Beatle John Lennon, for $2 million. He threatened to release embarrassing recordings and photos of her and possibly have her killed.
Karsan pleaded guilty on Feb. 16 to attempted grand larceny, admitting he told Ono she had to pay him “more than $3,000” to stop his plan. Any defendant pleading guilty to that charge must admit trying to steal at least that much.
He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, which was covered by the time he had already served. Karsan then was turned over to immigration officials.
Karsan’s criminal trial lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, maintained after Karsan’s plea that he was an aggrieved employee “who was sexually harassed” and otherwise abused by Ono and had been demanding compensation, not trying to blackmail her.