PHOENIX – A man who agreed to plead guilty in a plot to extort more than $1 million from Tom Cruise for the actor's stolen wedding photos was found dead in his home, authorities said.
Investigators said it appeared David Hans Schmidt, 47, who was under house arrest and faced up to two years in federal prison, had committed suicide.
He was found dead in his townhouse around 3 p.m. Friday after police noticed a tracker placed on him had not moved and he had not checked in, said Lt. Anthony Lopez.
It wasn't known when Schmidt, who was free on $100,000 bond, was to enter his plea in court. He also faced a $250,000 fine under a plea agreement filed Aug. 24 in Los Angeles.
Schmidt, known for brokering deals involving compromising celebrity photos and videos, was arrested in July after federal authorities said a co-defendant obtained photos of Cruise's wedding to Katie Holmes in Italy last year from the event's official photographer, court documents show.
Starting in May, Schmidt had repeated contact with Cruise representatives and threatened to release the photos if he didn't receive between $1.2 and $1.3 million, authorities said.
Schmidt also tried to auction off Paris Hilton's diaries, along with photos of her in various stages of undress and other personal items that had been locked away in a Los Angeles-area storage locker until a few months ago.
He also claimed to have brokered deals to sell a sex video of Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on "Saved by the Bell," and a video of skater Tonya Harding's wedding night, according to published reports. He also claimed to have obtained topless shots of rescued U.S. Army POW Pfc. Jessica Lynch.