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Autumn Jackson gets 26 months for Cosby plot

Autumn Jackson
Autumn Jackson   
December 12, 1997
Web posted at: 11:01 a.m. EST (1601 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A New York judge sentenced Autumn Jackson on Friday to 26 months in prison for her role in a $40 million extortion plot against comedian Bill Cosby, the man she claims is her father.

Jackson could have received up to 6 years in prison. Cosby had said he hoped Jackson would be sent somewhere where she could receive counseling.

Jackson was convicted on July 25 of plotting to extort the money from Cosby by threatening to tell the tabloids she was his out-of-wedlock daughter.

The defense portrayed the 23-year-old as a naive woman who believed Cosby was her father and wanted to work out a financial arrangement because of their relationship.

Prosecutors described her as a cold, calculating woman who intended to blackmail Cosby for financial gain. Much of the evidence that helped convict her came from Jackson herself, including a taped conversation in which she called Cosby's attorney to state her price.

"OK, what I can do is, I can cut it down the middle to, and take off another five, and bring that to 25," jurors heard her say when the taped evidence was presented in court.


"Twenty-five million dollars?" Cosby's attorney, John Schmitt, asked. FBI agents had attached a recording device to Schmitt's shirt for the meeting in his Manhattan office.

"Twenty-five," she agreed.

"The tapes really convinced us of her guilt," a juror said after her conviction. "It was unquestionable, her purpose and motive and the fact she remained undeterred."

Cosby testified he had had an affair in 1974 with Jackson's mother, Shawn Thompson Upshaw, but did not believe he was Autumn Jackson's father. He also admitted that he paid Jackson's mother over the years to keep their extramarital affair a secret, giving her about $40,000 a year until he set up a trust fund for her.

The judge ruled that paternity was not an issue in the trial. Cosby offered to undergo testing to resolve the paternity question, and challenged Jackson to do likewise, but she refused.

In a letter sent to federal Judge Barbara Jones, Jackson apologized to the entertainer for her actions, admitting she caused him "great pain and embarrassment." Also in the letter was a plea from her attorney for leniency in sentencing.


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