Joe Cavallo, Haidl 3 Lawyer and Briber: I'm Not Guilty of $20 Million Saudi Sheik Extortion Plot

See the update on Page 2 with Joe Cavallo and the German national pleading not guilty at arraignment and what the OC lawyer's lawyer John Barnett said outside court.

Joe Cavallo booking photo.JPG
OC Weekly archives
Just to be clear, this photo is from a previous time Joe Cavallo was booked.

ORIGINAL POST, JULY 15, 6:07 A.M.: The first time I read about lawyer Joe Cavallo was years ago, during my colleague R. Scott Moxley's award-winning coverage of "The Haidl 3," the nickname we gave the Orange County assistant sheriff's son and two friends who were ultimately convicted of a disgusting rape and sexual acts to a passed-out teen girl Cavallo and others on the defense team portrayed as a willing slut.

WEB EXCLUSIVE! A Street Cur Named Cavallo: Haidl lawyer bullies an alleged gang-rape victims parents and grandmother before jury deliberations
More from our Cavallo-Haidl archives

Fast forward a few years and ol' Mox was reporting on Cavallo being convicted of felony "capping," that is, illegally paying bail bond agents to steer clients to his firm. Orange County Superior Court Judge Carla Singer did not send Cavallo to prison but instead gave him six months of home detention, three years of probation and an $18,000 fine.

After serving his probation without incident, the man Moxley has described as "one of Orange County's most well-connected criminal defense lawyers"--his pals have included then-Sheriff Mike Carona and then-assistant sheriffs George Jaramillo and Don Haidl--went back before Singer to get his capping guilty plea dismissed. The judge complied, reducing all charges to misdemeanors and sealing Cavallo's file from future public access.

Joseph G. Cavallo, Haidl Gang Rape Lawyer, Wins Personal Corruption Case Dismissal

"In mitigation, he cooperated with the bar's investigation and he presented witnesses who testified to his good character," is how the state bar's website describes Cavallo's winning move.

And so, Cavallo, whose license to practice law had been suspended in California in 2007 and 2009, lived to lawyer another day ... to what would become the chagrin of one of the wealthiest men in Saudi Arabia.

Cavallo, fellow lawyer (and fellow 58-year-old) Emanuel Karl Hudson and German national Leyla Ors, 33, were charged Monday with conspiring and attempting to extort $20 million from Sheikh Monsur Albalwi, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney's office (LADA).

Ors told police she had been raped and tortured by Thamer Albalwi, the sheik's 23-year-old son, and based on her allegations, a physical exam and visible injuries like a cigarette burn on her arm, the junior Albalwi was charged March 13 with four counts of sexual assault.

Hudson is accused of calling Albalwi's father in June and saying for $15 million Ors would not testify and "the case would be over." Cavallo allegedly called the sheik the same day and demanded that $20 million be deposited in an account set up in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The charges against Thamer Albalwi, who had already been released in lieu of $3 million bail, were dismissed Friday. More than dismissed, according to his attorneys, who issued a statement saying Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Dabney found "factual innocence" in the case.

Albalwi, who provided telephone and credit card records, emails, text messages and surveillance video to the police to prove that Ors was lying, says in a statement released by his law firm Brown White & Newhouse LLP: "I prayed that the truth would come out and, thanks to the American justice system, it did."

Prosecutors wasted no time filing new charges: Cavallo, Hudson and Ors face one felony count each of attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to receive a bribe and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Ors is also charged with offering to receive a bribe by a witness.

By the way, she thought she was returning to the States last week to testify against Albalwi. Instead, she was arrested and jailed. Cavallo and Hudson made their $50,000 bails. (Prompting the question: Was Cavallo referred to himself by the bail bondsman?)

At her arraignment Monday, Ors requested a German interpreter and because none were available her hearing was moved to today, when Cavallo is also to be arraigned in downtown LA. Hudson has arraignment scheduled July 31.

If convicted, each could get up to four years behind bars--although in the case of one of Orange County's most well-connected criminal defense lawyers, who knows what kind of leniency he can ultimately win from a local legal system that has embraced him so warmly over the years?

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ltpar you know the difference between federal (Carona) and state (Cavallo) charges. They'll never cross paths until they are both free to conspire again.

ltpar topcommenter

As little credibility as lawyers have today, Cavallo takes that to a new low.  Wonder if he and Mike Corona might end up as cell mates in the joint.  They can rehash old times?  

Leo Campos
Leo Campos

Cavallo was alway's a scum bag!!

Emily Cox
Emily Cox

This man is the scum of the earth.

David Powell
David Powell

Lock em up again and throw the key away!!!


"The Sheik Shakedown'' by Joe Cavallo

Arlyn Buck
Arlyn Buck

Cavallo, the gift that keeps on giving!!!

Julio Arana
Julio Arana

Wow! Again cavallo has had his license suspended before.

949girl topcommenter

Doesn't he just look like a disgusting pig from this photo?  He has always seemed like the slimiest, bottom feeder ever.  This story doesn't surprise me.  Funny thing is the victim from the Haidl case seems to be doing well and hopefully continues to.  Seems like all of the bad guys have gotten their karma in some way.

JBinOC topcommenter

"Prompting the question: Was Cavallo referred to himself by the bail bondsman?"


fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter


He's the kind of attorney I have in mind when I tell that old joke: Q: What do you call 50 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A: A good start.

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