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Oprah blackmail plan foiled

The FBI has revealed that oprah Winfrey was the target of a foiled $2.2 million extortion plot. Keifer Bonvillain (36) was arrested in December last year after he met an emissary with the intention of exchanging audio tapes for money. He was released on $35,000 bail and is now awaiting a preliminary hearing for approaching “a public figure and the owner of a Chicago-based company” and threatening to release potentially damaging recorded phone conversations about the person, whom Chicago newspapers claim is oprah. Keifer allegedly met a California-based “business associate” of a Chicago-based company at a party more than two years ago, then recorded 12 hours of conversations with the employee about the owner and her business. Although the complaint does not specify if he had any direct contact with the business owner (which sources say was oprah but legal papers don’t identify), it does say that in mid-october he sent her an email, informing her that the employee said “awful things” about her. The FBI alleges that Keifer told the associate he wanted to publish a book based on the tapes. “There are a lot of people who would want these,” Keifer is quoted as saying. He also allegedly mentions receiving offers of $5 million from tabloids and book publishers. Keifer denies the allegations, claiming, “It was a big mix-up.” [10 January 2007]

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