Man accused of attempted blackmail held in jail

CHICAGO -- A federal judge refused to dismiss charges Thursday against a self-styled community activist accused of attempting to blackmail New York Yankees slugger Gary Sheffield and his wife with a purported sex videotape and ordered him held in jail.

U.S. magistrate judge Morton Denlow brushed aside Derrick Mosley's claim that he just wanted to provide moral counseling to Sheffield's wife, gospel singer DeLeon Richards.

"There is probable cause to believe that this whole issue of counseling and that you were intending to counsel that person was a fraud," the judge said.

During the hearing, federal prosecutors played a secretly made tape of Mosley, 38, telling Sheffield's Chicago-based business agent that he had done "a noble thing" in not trying to sell the videotape on the open market.

The business agent, Rufus Williams, has said Mosley told him that the videotape was sent to him anonymously and that it showed Richards having sex with a professional musician.

Williams contacted the FBI after Mosley first contacted him on Nov. 3. He later secretly taped a phone conversation with Mosley in which he expressed hope that the tape would be destroyed and offered to pay Mosley $1,000 for his efforts. The community activist is heard on tape saying: "I think we just gotta go a little higher."

"I think if you wanted to really be fair, we're looking at more like perhaps $20,000," Mosley is heard saying.

For the first time, prosecutors said Thursday that the government doesn't know whether the videotape actually exists.

Under questioning by assistant U.S. attorney Virginia Kendall, FBI agent Timothy Keese said that agents had confiscated more than a dozen tapes from a Chicago room where they believe Mosley had been living rent-free. But Keese said the agents had yet to review
the tapes.

Keese also testified that he had been investigating Mosley for two years, but he did not elaborate. Kendall declined to comment on the purpose of that investigation.

Defense attorney Luis Galvan told the judge Thursday that Mosley, by going to Williams with the alleged tape and offering to counsel Richards, was actually trying to break out of small-time community activism and bask in the celebrity of Sheffield and his wife.

"He has tried to create a persona of being something of a poor man's Jesse Jackson," Galvan said. "He enjoys the limelight, judge, no question about it."

If Mosley really were engaged in blackmail he would have asked more, Galvan said.

Denlow had been scheduled to hold a hearing on whether to grant bond for Mosley. But that plan was abandoned when prosecutors told him that Mosley was already on probation for a 1999 bank fraud conviction.

"The defendant will be held in custody," Denlow ordered as marshals led Mosley out.

Mosley will get a chance to ask for bail at a not yet scheduled hearing before U.S. district judge Milton Shadur, who sentenced him to a year in prison and five years of probation in the bank fraud case.