Man Convicted of Extorting Dion's Husband

A minister from California has been convicted of trying to extort millions of dollars with his wife's rape allegation against singer Celine Dion's (search) husband, Rene Angelil (search).

Ae Ho Kwon (search), 52, could face probation or up to 12 years in prison and deportation to South Korea following his conviction Monday on felony charges of extortion, conspiracy and soliciting a bribe.

"He kept saying to me, 'I don't understand,'" said Kwon's attorney, Lisa Rasmussen. "He doesn't understand what he did wrong."

Kwon's wife, Yun Kyeong Kwon Sung, 49, was convicted last year and sentenced in January to 28 months to five years in prison in the plot to extort as much as $20 million from Angelil with an allegation that Angelil raped Sung at a Las Vegas Strip hotel in 2000.

Kwon's jury deliberated little less than five hours before delivering their verdict after a three-day trial in Clark County District Court. Jurors declined comment afterward.

Judge Jackie Glass ordered Kwon, a Presbyterian minister from Pasadena, Calif., taken into custody pending sentencing May 12.

Rasmussen vowed to appeal, saying she should have been allowed to question Angelil on the witness stand, and alleging that authorities never fully investigated the rape allegation.

"Mr. Angelil was treated with kid gloves by everyone," Rasmussen said. "This was all about Mr. Angelil, not about Mr. Kwon, the defendant."

The judge ruled Angelil was not properly subpoenaed to testify, and said she did not want Kwon's trial to focus on civil litigation between Angelil, Kwon and Kwon's wife.

Through his lawyers, Angelil has denied any wrongdoing. His lawyer, David Chesnoff, praised the verdict.

"Just because someone's famous, it doesn't mean you can be taken advantage of," Chesnoff said.

Angelil originally paid Sung and Kwon $2 million in 2000 as part of a confidential settlement, but authorities said Kwon and Sung demanded more money two years later.

The couple also went public with their rape accusations — filing a police report and a civil lawsuit against Angelil.

Las Vegas police investigated, but closed the case after Sung and Kwon failed to turn over to detectives a dress the couple contended had Angelil's DNA on it.

Sung and Kwon were arrested in January 2003 at a Las Vegas meeting between lawyers that involved an undercover detective and was secretly taped by police.

Prosecutor L.J. O'Neale said he did not call Angelil as a witness because demands for money were made through Angelil's lawyers and Angelil did not see acts directly related to the extortion.

Dion, a Grammy Award-winning singer, performs a show at the Caesars Palace hotel-casino in Las Vegas.