According to The Chronicle-Telegram (Ohio) An OSHA compliance officer from Lorain, Ohio is accused of trying to blackmail Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club in Cleveland. Joseph Schwarz pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to charges of extortion and possession of criminal tools.
Brent English, Schwarz’s attorney, said his client will fight the charges.
“He’s denied that he did anything that constitutes extortion,” English said.
The 34-year-old Schwarz was arrested by the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force on July 12 during a meeting investigators set up with him in which he was supposed to be paid the $10,000 he had demanded from the club while posing as a lawyer.
According to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason’s office, Schwarz first contacted the club in early June and had been in contact with the club using his home and work computers, as well as his personal cell phone, in the alleged scheme.
The FBI has declined to provide details on how the case came to the attention of law enforcement, but has acknowledged that the club cooperated with the investigation.
OSHA spokesman Scott Allen said that Schwarz remains an employee of the agency but said he couldn’t comment beyond that. English said Schwarz has been placed on administrative leave while the criminal case is pending.
Schwarz, who is free on a $5,000 bond, is due back in court later this month.