Gay Porn Star Guilty of Extorting Fla. Tycoon

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A gay porn actor was found guilty Thursday of extorting and attempting to extort $1.5 million from a Florida-based business tycoon.
     The case ended Thursday afternoon after about two hours of deliberation, with the jury delivering a guilty verdict against defendant Teofil Brank, who performs as Jarec Wentworth, on all six of the government’s charges.
     Brank, flushed and on the verge of tears, buried his head in his hands after the jurors left the courtroom.
     His defense attorney Seema Ahmad wept as two U.S. Marshals cuffed and chained Brank, who was dressed in a white-collared blue shirt, gray pants and black shoes.
     Brank’s criminal trial began on Tuesday. He was charged with extorting Florida tycoon Donald Burns.
     During trial, jurors heard salacious details, including Burns’ bid to have a gay porn movie shoot on his multimillion dollar cliffside estate, lurid testimony about sex parties and Burns’ very public relationship with another former gay model and porn star.
     In a stunning admission, a male prostitute confirmed he was reluctant to talk to authorities because of his relationship with a “powerful” individual.
     “David Geffen” was the name he uttered on the second day of proceedings.
     Efforts to contact Geffen – billionaire philanthropist, founder of Geffen Records and co-founder of Dreamworks SKG – or his representatives were unsuccessful.
     Brank was arrested in an FBI sting at a Starbucks near LAX as he tried to blackmail Burns for $1 million. By that time, Brank had already persuaded Burns to hand over his Audi R8 sports car and wire $500,000 from a Goldman Sachs account to a Wells Fargo bank account under Brank’s name.
     “I want a new car, motorcycle and both hands full of cash,” Brank wrote in a text message to Burns on February 16, according to court records.
     The 14-panel jury of 11 women and three men included two alternates. They heard during the three-day trial that Brank extorted Burns and threatened to ruin his reputation by posting sexually explicit photos on Twitter.
     Brank made his demands via text message from his smartphone after posting comments aimed at Burns on the social media site, the government said.
     In one tweet, Brank, who currently has more than 10,000 followers on Twitter, wrote: “How many porn stars know a man named Don? Yes Don.”
     Burns is chairman of Internet phone company Magicjack. He was a co-founder of the Telco Communications Group and heads the Donald A. Burns Foundation.
     The businessman testified that he had paid the men up to $2,500 for each sexual encounter and knew he was engaging in prostitution. After meeting Brank in 2013, he paid the porn star for sex and for referring him to other porn stars and models from the Sean Cody paid gay pornography website, he said.
     He emailed a list of 11 Sean Cody models to Brank and suggested he would pay him $22,000 in referral fees if he delivered the escorts, the jury heard.
     “It was a way to have sexual contact without commitment and I had the resources to do it,” Burns told prosecutor Kimberly Jaimez, adding that he had not been granted immunity from criminal prosecution.
     During the trial, jurors were shown several photographs of Burns at society events and functions with another former Sean Cody model, Mackenzie Amadon, with whom Burns allegedly had a long-term relationship.
     The defense tried to persuade jurors that Burns was never worried about any threat to his reputation and had “groomed” Brank for a life outside of the sex industry, along with Amadon and another escort, witness Justin Griggs.
     It was Griggs who testified that he had been reluctant to talk to the FBI about the case because he feared for his safety if he talked about his relationship with an individual described as “very powerful.”
     “Should I give you the name of the person?” Griggs asked Brank’s attorney, Ashfaq Chowdhury.
     “Yes,” Chowdhury said.
     “David Geffen,” Griggs replied.
     Griggs also testified that Burns had jetted him to residences on Nantucket Island and Palm Beach for sex sessions with up to three other models. The tycoon would pay each model he brought to his residences with envelopes stuffed with cash, the court heard.
     “It was really just hanging out, surfing, grilling out, going to dinner, and then we would have sex – group sex,” Griggs said.
     Cooperating witness and French national Etienne Yim, who has taken a plea deal after he drove Brank to the meeting at the Starbucks on March 4 in his Ford hatchback, told the court that both he and Brank were worried they would not leave the meeting alive.
     Yim said that was why they had taken a Colt Magnum revolver and six rounds of ammunition to the meeting. Yim borrowed the gun from a friend – ostensibly so he could let off some steam at a shooting range, and had even borrowed a bag with yellow-tinted shooting goggles and ear muffs, he said.
     “He’s a very powerful person,” Yim said of Burns. “I believed he had the power to eliminate the two of us.”
     The jury also heard during testimony yesterday that Burns had offered Sean Cody filmmakers use of his renowned Razor Residence estate in La Jolla for a nominal fee of $10. Designed by Wallace Cunningham, the residence has reportedly been featured in ads for VISA and Calvin Klein.
     Calling Burns the “perfect target for extortion,” Jaimez said during closing arguments on Thursday that Burns – worth almost $140 million – was worried that revelations about his sex life would disrupt his business dealings.
     “The secret was that he was engaged in prostitution,” Jaimez said, adding that Burns did not want that information “out there.”
     Chowdhury had argued that the prosecution failed to establish that Brank was not just demanding money from Burns for services he had offered to the tycoon.
     “What’s the fair market value of everything Mr. Brank did for Mr. Burns?” Chowdhury asked the jurors.
     Jaimez though said the case was never about prostitution or relationships, only extortion. The prosecution had provided ample evidence of Brank’s emails and texts to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty, she said.
     “There is no fair market value for pimping,” the prosecutor said.
     Brank was found guilty of transmitting threatening communications, extortion by non-violent threat, two counts of receiving proceeds of extortion, attempted extortion by non-violent threat, and use of an interstate facility to facilitate unlawful activity.
     Of Romanian descent, Brank has been in the United States since he was a toddler but is not a U.S. citizen.
     Facing multiple years in federal prison, he is scheduled to return to court on September 21 for sentencing.
     U.S. District Judge John Walter presided over the trial in his downtown courtroom.