My favorite extortionist pleaded guilty today (Monday) to extorting the Philadelphia Parking Authority for $500.
South Philly shakedowner-wanna-be Rocco Martinez, 30, had shot a video in September 2011, using his cell-phone camera, of a hinky-looking interaction between a PPA ticket-writer and a bootleg-movie seller who called himself "The Movie Guy." Rocco said it depicted the PPA ticket-writer cancelling a parking ticket in exchange for two free, bootlegged movies.
Rocco attempted to sell the video to the Daily News, but we don't pay for that kind of stuff. He did let me see the video, though, which was just too blurry and garbled to confirm, unequivocally, that it showed what Roco said it did. When I called the PPA for comment, no one would comment on the video, either. So I didn't pursue using it.
While Rocco was hustling the Daily News for payout, say the feds, he was also hustling PPA executive director Vince Fennerty, threatening to make the embarrassing video public if the PPA didn't slide Rocco some dough. Fennerty contacted the authorites, and Rocco got himself arrested for extortion.
The feds announcement today says that Rocco faces two years in the slammer, a one-year period of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. It also says that Rocco told Fennerty that the Daily News had offered to pay for the video, which is a crock. We never offered a dime.
I did get a kick out of meeting Rocco, though, who boasted that the video was "Pulitzer material" and would make my career at the Daily News.
Too bad I missed that boat.