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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Spokane’s Big Gay Extortion Ring

posted by on November 8 at 7:33 AM

CurtisCastagna.jpg

It’s beginning to look like Richard Curtis wasn’t Cody Castagna’s only victim. KOMO reports

Richard Curtis, the state lawmaker who resigned amid a sex scandal, may be the latest victim in a string of men who have been targeted by a team of extortionists.

Cody Castagna has adamently denied blackmailing Curtis. But after days of investigating, police said Castanaga is a part of a group who went after the now-former state representative.

Spokane police detectives released surveillance photo of a man who they said went to the front desk of the Davenport Hotel, asked for an envelope and walked away with Curtis’ money. Police have only identified the man as a friend of Castagna who took part in the extortion….

Police said Castagna may be part of a larger group that targets gay men for extortion. In Curtis’ case, the group designated a flower pot at a Spokane part as the drop-off point for the remaining $800.

Detectives believe the group has done this before.

“There were multiple threats and payoffs,” said Sgt. Joe Peterson. “In this instance it seems like it was not the first time and we’ve been told by other people it’s not the first time the suspects have done this type of thing.”

In the original police report it indicates that Cody made the calls, one man picked up the first $200 Curtis left for Castagna at the front desk of the Davenport Tower, another man picked up the $800 Curtis left in a flower pot on a bridge, and another man disposed of Curtis’ wallet. It sounded like a conspiracy to me. And if you’re going to run an extortion ring picking off closeted gay men, Spokane would be a good place to do it.

The police picked up one of Castagna’s crew at the beginning of the investigation, and that kid said he wasn’t going to take a fall for Castagna. He’s probably agreed to testify against Castagna and others. It looks like Castagna will be brought up on charges sometimes soon, and may be heading back to prison.

KOMO update via Towleroad.

RSS icon Comments

1

I hope the charges against Castagna include hat crime.

Posted by Jason | November 8, 2007 7:49 AM
2

I've seen it reported several times that "cody" may be going "back" to prison but have not read when or why he was previously locked up. Anyone know?

Posted by jamesb | November 8, 2007 7:51 AM
3

Good. Send him home.

Posted by Mr. Poe | November 8, 2007 7:54 AM
4

Just when one thinks it can't get any sleazier. . .

Posted by Michigan Matt | November 8, 2007 8:30 AM
5

If I remember right, Castagna was in jail for forgery previously.

P.S. 'hat crime' - awesome!

Posted by Joe Ellen | November 8, 2007 8:30 AM
6

There probably won't be any other married, 'straight' men coming forward claiming they were extorsion victims.

Posted by bernd | November 8, 2007 8:34 AM
7

I really don't know which one I hate the most here. It seems like I despise everybody involved in outings. From Haggard to Jones, from Cody to Curtis. They're all dirty, selfish people. Thanks for continuing to give the 'mos a bad name. Meth dealing, whoring, extortion, adultery, amatuer porn, upside-down visors...it seems like the only time the gays hit the spotlight, it's covered with shit.

Posted by Mr. Poe | November 8, 2007 8:39 AM
8

Is 'hat crime' a reference to that headband? If so, I agree: throw the book at him!

Posted by Ziggity | November 8, 2007 8:42 AM
9

They all deserve each other.

Ugh.

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | November 8, 2007 8:44 AM
10

Now, now, we don't know if the other guys in this extortion ring are gay. Every heist movie has a team made up of different people; you have the "brains of the operation" you have the "muscle" you have the computer hacker guy, the wise cracking black guy... maybe Cody's code name was 'The Bait"

Posted by Bont | November 8, 2007 8:47 AM
11

Extorting closeted straight guys is despicable, of course, but genius in a totally diabolical way. There are many potential blackmail targets (who are probably pretty easy to seduce), they have alot to lose by the revelation so would be willing to pony up, and they are really unlikely to report the crime.

I'm sort of impressed that the man wearing a sideways, upside down visor (or his friends) came up with this brilliant scheme.

Posted by Julie | November 8, 2007 9:18 AM
12

There isn't anything brilliant about it, Julie. I'll give Jones some credit, because I do actually believe that he really did feel that he was doing the right thing, although I also believe that now that he's ruined his reputation, he's desperate to 'out' more people, whether or not he really slept with them. But at least his outing of Haggard came with reason.

Cody had no intentions of outing Curtis for any reason other than money. Flat out. It isn't brilliant, it's pathetic. It's low. Cody is no better than Curtis. He's worse.

Posted by Mr. Poe | November 8, 2007 9:27 AM
13

The upside down visor is definitely a hat crime.

Posted by MN Gay Dude | November 8, 2007 9:37 AM
14

You know what? If fear of a band of outing-happy gay extortionists is going to make even one useless piece of closeted Republican trash think twice before legislating against his own kind, I say bring on the blackmailers! You wanna mess with us, you fucking hypocrites? We'll mess right back with you.

Posted by chrisdiani | November 8, 2007 9:44 AM
15

@ #2, in 2001 Cody hooked up with some guy and stole his checkbook and then went on a spending spree. I donít remember exactly how much was spent but it was well into 5 digits in just a couple weeks. He told his friends (and by friends, I mean people who he leached off of including my best friend at the time) that this guy GAVE him the checkbook and told him to use it as much as he wanted and that this guy was his new sugar daddy. He used it to stay in several nice hotels, bought lots of clothes, and lots of expensive meals.

I recall a tab at Danielís on Lake Washington of $2500 for four people. I was one of the four people. I didnít know him very well but my friend did so I believed him. I was surprised that Danielís was willing to take a check for $2500 from someone who didnít have ID to match the name on the check. I expressed my concern about that to Cody and he said, ďoh theyíll take it. Iíve been going to nice restaurants all over the place and they donít even ask.Ē

A few days later I received a call from my friend, sobbing that Cody had actually stolen the checkbook and the guy was pressing charges and Cody implicated him as an accomplice. My friend got off with probation and had to pay restitution for a good chunk of what was spent by the two of them in return for testifying against Cody. Cody ended up having to serve a few months. I donít remember exactly how long.

I forgave my friend for putting me in that position of unknowingly consuming some of the ill-gotten gains because he was a naÔve geek who thought Cody was cool. I also made it clear to Cody that he was no longer welcome in my presence.

Cody talks a good game and there are plenty of poor saps in Spokane who think heís cool so him getting them to help him is not really surprising.

He's a little shit.

Posted by monkey | November 8, 2007 9:54 AM
16

I agree with Chrisdiani (#14). While extortion's generally bad, I sort of have no sympathy. As Dan has said many times, it's tough being out, and it's something I think about every day and in every new personal or professional interaction I have. Closeted guys--closeted guys hiring hookers, I should add--get the best of both worlds: they get their rocks off, but don't have to do any of the work.

I have more sympathy for plain ol' closeted Joes, but closeted homophobic legislators deserve everything they get, even if it's criminal.

Posted by Dean | November 8, 2007 9:56 AM
17

Awww... Fuck!

Hear I was, perfectly content to loath hypocritical, lingerie wearing, douchebag Republican Curtis.

Now, the more I hear about Cody, the more despicable he sounds. It is making it harder to completely despise Curtis. I mean, sure, he lied to his wife, was a complete hypocrite in politics, but when it came to be blackmailed by a scumbag like Cody, Curtis may actually have done the right thing: turned Cody in rather than be blackmailed, at great cost to his personal and professional life.

I still hate him for his politics, but compared to Cody, Curtis seems like the more stand up guy.

Ugh. I can't believe I just wrote that.

Posted by SDA in SEA | November 8, 2007 10:06 AM
18

Sure, crimes have been committed here... but, as I'm sure Dan would point out, there'd be no grounds for extortion if folks like Curtis weren't sneaking around and lying to their loved ones. And I find it difficult to have much sympathy for yet another anti-gay Republican getting caught because of the shameful world they have helped to perpetuate. There's simply no excuse. If this had been an out legislator, it wouldn't be a story.

Posted by Mickymse | November 8, 2007 10:18 AM
19

great story in the paper on all this dan, very insightful and even compassionate. (though curtis also said "i didn't have sex with him" as well as "i'm not gay".) i really appreciate the perspective.

Posted by infrequent | November 8, 2007 10:57 AM
20

I'm shocked. SHOCKED! A hustler who's also an extortionist?! Who saw that coming? Why, I haven't been this shocked since I learned that James Frey, the author of "A Million Little Pieces" and an admitted addict, LIED!

p.s. Great article in this issue, Dan. Likewise, Dave's "Last Days" column had me peeing in my pj's this morning from laughing so hard. Great issue.

Posted by Do the Hustle | November 8, 2007 11:12 AM
21

Mr. Poe @12... I meant brilliant in a diabolically criminal way, not in a, man I wish I had thought of it so I could out closeted homos way. If I were a criminal looking to make some cash illegally, I would think that this is a pretty good scheme (I have no doubt that they were only interested in money, not in outing hypocrites). Despicable, but smart. Of course, not that smart, since they did get caught.

Posted by Julie | November 8, 2007 11:19 AM
22

They likely that these guys extort money from out gays cheating on their partners, in addition to closeted, married homophobe types

Posted by miss_m | November 8, 2007 12:01 PM
23

And add me to the people saying great article. This case is just a sad one all round. I feel sorry for Curtis' family, Castagna's family, and even Cody and Richard. Though the last two did get into this mess on their own.

Posted by Joe Ellen | November 8, 2007 12:10 PM
24

And the closet is less scary than being out how?

Posted by Gitai | November 8, 2007 12:22 PM
25

i think i fucked this guy back in 2002. And back then he was described to me by a friend as "a computer programmer from hawaii, on a break from work." just another mistake from the bad old days, oh well, hopefully he goes to jail.

Posted by anothermistake | November 8, 2007 1:37 PM
26

Dan, I enjoyed the story but there is one thing which no one has addressed that is bothering the Miss Marple in me. In the first release of Castanga's side of the story he says that when Curtis said he was going to the casino, he (Castagna) replied that he no longer went there. I have been wondering if he was 86'd for something he did there, or if his previous conviction has something to do with it. Dan, did you find out anything about when you were there?

Posted by gay elitist | November 8, 2007 3:15 PM
27

Ugh. He has nasty, crude, dirty gay sex...then he is a victim.
Did Castanga tie him down with his hat???

Posted by Joy | November 8, 2007 8:45 PM
28

Blackmailing Rentboy or not, I'd still do him.

Posted by RG | November 9, 2007 6:37 AM
29

yeah i had a pretty rough childhood/growing up and yes got my self into alot of trouble, I dont ever recall saying i was an angel!! I'm far from perfect and made mistakes in my past (and paid for each mistake wether it be jail, restitution, fines, community service, boy's home ect.) 2000
almost 8 years ago was the last time i did anything illeagal & worthy of punishment..

that being #15 me and my bf did find a check book in the back of his car and like dumb ass's we wrote them all over seattle and yes we brought along people we wanted to impress, it was stupid, wrong and i'll never do it again nor have i!!

Its funny cause you (so called)reporters only talk about the parts of a story/situation that makes your headline better for instance in almost every story you refer to me as a "escort" prostitute, call boy, whore, AND IM NOT NOR HAVE I EVER BEEN. you saw my criminal records dating back 15 years till now and not one or any of my charges for prostitution or anything of the sort. and the last time i checked I DIDNT HAVE ANY EXTORTION charges either, gee maybe cause i never have and never will try and extort anyone..

what really gets me is that Mr. Curtis has lied to not only the police but the media as well, not once, not twice try like 5 times and with each lie he told his story changed..

but a video clip that shows me talking to my mom in the casino was broadcasted accross the usa stating i was talking to
"cheral Larson" a PIMP in spokane that was busted and now doing time..

it just goes to show if your a GOP you can make the laws, Break the laws, and get quoted by the media lying his ass off not only to him self but to all the people He "helps out"...

and here i am telling the truth and nationaly humiliating(spell check) myself having to give details to prove tand show that the only Victim is me.

Posted by Cody Castagna | November 14, 2007 3:14 AM
30

Once an extortioner, always an extortioner.
BJ

Posted by Brian Joseph | November 18, 2007 12:34 PM
31

SDA, Cody IS stand up, too.
Or bend over. Whatever you need.
Just hang on to your wallet, credit cards,
checkbook, cash, jewelry ... and pipe.
BJ

Posted by brian joseph | November 18, 2007 12:37 PM
32

Hat crime ... purely hilarious.
BJ

Posted by brian joseph | November 18, 2007 12:42 PM

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