Prostitute charged with extorting lawmaker

Posted on 20 Dec 2007 at 11:36am
By Associated Press


Cody Castagna pauses during a press conference at his lawyer David Partovi’s office in Spokane, Wash. on Oct. 30. Castagna turned himself into police last week after being charged with trying to extort money from State Rep. Richard Curtis. Castagna maintains that he only wanted the money Curtis promised him for having sex without a condom.

Washington state rep denied giving Castagna money for sex; Castagna says he wants what was promised

Washington state rep denied giving Castagna money for sex; Castagna says he wants what was promised
Associated Press

Police issued arrest warrants Wednesday, Dec. 12, for four men accused of trying to extort money from a former Washington State legislator who resigned his post after an affair with one of the accused became public.

Spokane County prosecutors contended in court documents that Cody Castagna and three others attempted to blackmail former representative Richard Curtis in October. Castagna turned himself in to authorities that night.

Curtis, a Republican, told a newspaper in his southwest Washington district shortly after the story broke that sex was not involved in what he said was an extortion attempt. He also declared he was not gay.

But in police reports Curtis said he was being extorted by Castagna, with whom he had sex in a hotel room in Spokane, where Curtis was attending a GOP retreat.

Castagna has denied wrongdoing and contended Curtis reneged on a promise to pay $1,000 for sex.

Castagna is charged with three counts of second-degree theft of a credit card, one count of second-degree extortion, and one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree extortion.
The other three men Castagna’s brother, Joseph L. Castagna; Robert H. Fletcher; and Brandon D. Burchell have been charged with second-degree extortion and conspiracy to commit second-degree extortion.

Bond has been set in Spokane County superior court at $7,500 for each of the four.

“I’m not going to run. I have nothing to hide,” Cody Castagna told KREM-TV as he arrived at the Spokane County courthouse with his attorney and a bail bondsman.

His attorney, David Partovi, told The Spokesman-Review newspaper that he would fight the charges against his client and that the money his client sought from Curtis was not “extortion money. It was prostitution money.”

According to court documents, Curtis met Cody Castagna in an adult bookstore and then at a hotel. Castagna told police he agreed to have unprotected sex for $1,000 but Curtis then refused to pay.

Later that evening, Curtis woke up and found that Castagna had left the room. His billfold, credit cards, and Washington State Legislature identification were missing, prosecutors allege.

Castagna later called Curtis, demanded $1,000, and threatened to expose him if he did not pay. Curtis left money at the hotel’s front desk for Castagna, and Fletcher picked up the money, prosecutors allege.

Castagna demanded additional money from Curtis, and Joseph Castagna and Burchell helped Cody plan the pickup of the additional money, court documents state. Curtis called police to complain he was being blackmailed.

Curtis denied offering to pay Castagna for sex but acknowledged giving him $100 for “gas money,” police reports said.

Authorities sent out a news release this week asking for potential past victims of Castagna to come forward.

“There were multiple threats and multiple payoffs in this instance and it just seems like this was not the first time,” police sergeant Joe Peterson said. “And we’ve been told by other people that this is not the first time the suspects in this case have done this type of thing.”

Curtis, a married father who voted against gay rights bills in the legislature, resigned his office a few days after the incident became public.

He is cooperating with investigators and will not be charged, deputy prosecuting attorney Larry Steinmetz said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 21, 2007.

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