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Judge tosses out 'Piolin' extortion suit against ex-staffers

March 20, 2014|Meg James, Los Angeles Times
  • Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo is photographed in the offices of SiriusXM satellite radio.
Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo is photographed in… (Gary Friedman /…)

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has dismissed an extortion lawsuit brought by popular Spanish-language radio personality Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo against six former staff members of his canceled Univision Radio show — and ruled that Sotelo may be liable for his adversaries’ legal fees.

In a civil lawsuit filed in August, Sotelo, whose show was based in Glendale, claimed that he was the victim of a shakedown by the former workers and their attorneys, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Sotelo maintained that the group banded together to demand $4.9 million from him in exchange for their silence — or else they would go public with additional allegations about boorish behavior on his Univision Radio show, which had been canceled a month earlier. 

Judge Richard A. Stone dismissed Sotelo's lawsuit late last week, finding that Sotelo had failed to prove that he would prevail with his extortion claims during a trial.

The judge also said the former workers could file a petition demanding that Sotelo pay their legal costs.

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Sotelo's attorney, Jeffrey Spitz, vowed to appeal.

“We are disappointed in the court's ruling,” Spitz said Wednesday in a statement. “Our appeal will be based, in part, on the fact that not all of the relevant evidence was considered by the court before making its decision. We are confident the defendants ultimately will be held accountable for their actions in seeking to extort our client.”

The extortion suit was yet another explosive twist in last summer’s Sotelo saga. The Mexican immigrant turned radio superstar, whose nickname “Piolin” means Tweety Bird, and Univision agreed to end their partnership in July a few months after a producer on the show, Alberto “Beto” Cortez, complained to the network that Sotelo had sexually harassed him over a three-year period. 

Cortez’s allegations were revealed by The Times in a front-page article. Sotelo, who became a U.S. citizen in 2008, has long denied the claims.

But after the public airing of Cortez’s harassment complaint to Univision, several others who had been involved with Sotelo’s show brought their concerns to the lawyers who were representing Cortez in his dealings with Univision.

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