PORTLAND, Ore. – A man convicted of extortion threats against the widow of Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel (search), has been ordered to serve three years on probation and undergo anger management counseling.
Charles Steen, 33, of Portland, had sent e-mails to Audrey Geisel in San Diego demanding "$2.5 million after taxes" or "I'll do something you'll regret," according to police.
If the 83-year-old Geisel refused, Steen said he would "go public" with a painting depicting Dr. Seuss characters engaged in sexual acts, and he sent a digital copy to Geisel's attorneys to prove the painting existed.
Portland fraud detectives say the extortion attempt was among the most bizarre cases they have investigated.
"Let me put it this way," said Sgt. Judy Brumfield, "after I handcuffed Mr. Steen, he asked me to make him a cup of tea. That's when I said, 'Whoa! Something's not right in Who-ville.' "
Portland police, working with a San Diego high-tech crimes unit, arrested Steen last fall at his Portland apartment.
Steen recently pleaded guilty in a San Diego County court to sending written extortion threats to Geisel over the Internet.
In addition to probation and counseling, a judge also ordered Steen to stop trying to contact Geisel, her attorneys and Dr. Seuss Enterprises.