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Extortion trial starring John Stamos rolls onward

July 14, 2010 |  6:00 pm

John-stamos Strippers, cocaine and a day with John Stamos at a couple of Disney theme parks. Sounds like a party — or, in this case, an extortion trial in federal court in Michigan.

Allison Coss and Scott Sippola of Marquette, Mich., are accused of attempting to extort $680,000 from Stamos in exchange for not selling allegedly compromising photos of him to a magazine. (The alleged strippers and blow being the "compromising" aspects.)

Coss testified Wednesday for the defense that she believed her attempt to sell Stamos the photos, which were not found when the FBI searched the home she shares with Sippola, was morally wrong but not illegal, the Mining Journal reports.

Stamos testified Tuesday for the prosecution that, yes, in 2004 he'd met Coss, then a few weeks shy of 18, at an over-18 club during a trip to Orlando with friends after his split from wife Rebecca Romijn. Yes, she was among those who went with him to the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT center the next day. Yes, he'd given her his e-mail address and they'd communicated after the trip.

"It was all pretty sweet. I considered her a friend," Stamos said. "It was a sweet, flirty, normal relationship."

No, he testified, he didn't do coke with strippers, get in a hot tub with Coss or have an inappropriate relationship with a minor. (Opening statements for the defense had accused ...

... the "Full House" and soon-to-be "Glee" actor of carrying on a romantic liaison with Coss; Stamos' attorney said those allegations wouldn't be proved because they weren't true.)

Stamos then testified to details of e-mails sent to him under the names "Jessica T." and "Brian L." that escalated into threats and demands for money. The Mining Journal has all sorts of details -- worth a read if you're the "Law & Order" sort. When the demand escalated to $680,000, Stamos called his attorney, who then contacted the FBI. 

Coss and Sippola were arrested in December 2009, after an FBI sting.

That oddball dollar amount, incidentally, was based on an alleged $780,000 offer from tabloids for the rumored pictures, minus taxes. A news editor from Star magazine testified that such an offer for a picture "sounds preposterous." And one look at a U.S. income tax table is all that's needed to prove a tax bill for only $100,000 off that much income sounds preposterous as well. 

The prosecution rested Wednesday; defense testimony will continue Thursday. If convicted, the couple could get up to five years in prison on a conspiracy charge and two years on each of two extortion counts.

— Christie D'Zurilla 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: After testifying for the prosecution in an extortion trial, John Stamos meets with fans outside the federal building in Marquette, Mich., on Tuesday. Credit: Danielle Lehto / The Mining Journal