Jackson weeps during sentencing for Cosby plot
December 12, 1997
Autumn Jackson in court Friday
Web posted at: 1:09 p.m. EST (1809 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A New York judge sentenced a tearful Autumn
Jackson on Friday to 26 months in prison for trying to extort
$40 million from comedian Bill Cosby, the man she claims is
But U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones gave Jackson the option
of reducing her sentence by completing a six-month
rehabilitation program of physical wellness, education and
counseling. Afterward, Jackson could become eligible for
home confinement and community service.
"I've had a long time to think about what I've done and I'd
like to apologize to the court and Mr. Cosby," Jackson told
Jones before the sentencing.
"I only hoped that Mr. Cosby would be here and I would be
able to apologize to him in person for letting him down ...
and causing his family so much pain."
Jackson said she had recently married and wants to start a
"I knew Mr. Cosby held great expectations for me and believed
in me when no one else would and I let him down. I'm so
Then Jackson sat down, bowed her head and sobbed into a
tissue. Her attorney, Robert Baum, said Jones had instructed his client not to try to contact Cosby.
( 204K/17 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Cosby, in a taped TV interview on Thursday, said that
"whatever comes down is just fine with the Cosby family." The
extortion plot had unfolded at the same time as the
entertainer's only son, Ennis, was murdered. Cosby didn't
return phone calls seeking comment on Jackson's sentencing.
Judge used discretion
Jackson could have received up to six years in prison. In
handing down the shorter sentence, Jones said she based her
decision in part on Jackson's lack of sophistication, and the
belief that there was no possibility that Jackson would
repeat the crime.
Prosecutors had sought 51 to 57 months in prison. Baum had
argued for 12 months of home detention and community service.
Cosby himself had said he hoped Jackson would be sent
somewhere where she could receive counseling.
Jackson and co-defendant Jose Medina, 51, were convicted in
July of extortion, conspiracy and crossing state lines to
commit a crime. Another defendant, Boris Sabas, was acquitted
of extortion but convicted of conspiracy and crossing state
lines. The others await sentencing.
Antonay Williams, whom Jackson since has wed, pleaded guilty
earlier to helping the schemers.
Jurors cited taped conversation as key evidence
The defense portrayed the 23-year-old Jackson 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 met with 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."
Jackson refuses to help in paternity tests
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
In a letter sent to Jones before the sentencing, 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.