INDIANAPOLIS – A man claiming to be Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds' illegitimate son allegedly tried to extort $9 million from the Grammy-winning singer-producer by threatening to go public with the story, authorities said Monday.
John T. Clark, 23, of Indianapolis, was arrested Friday after accepting a bogus $9 million check from one of Edmonds' attorneys and signing what turned out to be fake nondisclosure agreement.
Clark, who faces one count each of felony theft and misdemeanor intimidation, is accused of contacting attorney William Briggs and demanding millions of dollars from Edmonds to "keep his mouth shut," according to court documents.
"The story was that he was going to ruin Babyface's reputation by claiming to be Babyface's illegitimate baby," Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said.
Clark was being held without bond at the Marion County Jail pending an initial hearing Tuesday. Brizzi said Clark recently had been released from jail after completing a sentence for robbery.
Brizzi said Clark made several calls to Briggs at his Los Angeles office. In the first, on May 1, he allegedly requested $20 million from Edmonds, who was born and raised in Indianapolis.
He threatened to go to the media with his allegations that Edmonds, 48, had an affair with his mother and that he was their child, Brizzi said.
Edmonds' business partner, Ken Christmas, called the allegations "completely and utterly false."
"The key for us is that this individual has a criminal background and the statements that he made were perceived by us to be a credible and a real threat to Kenny and his family," he said.
Briggs, after contacting Brizzi's office, offered to meet Clark in Indianapolis. On May 11, Clark lowered his demand to $9 million and agreed to meet Briggs in Indianapolis on May 19, according to a probable cause affidavit.
During their meeting at a restaurant, Clark read and signed a fake, but detailed 8-page nondisclosure statement the attorney had drawn up. He then accepted a bogus check for $9 million and was arrested as he left, Brizzi said.
Although Briggs maintains that he is Edmonds' son and claimed to have documents proving his parentage, Brizzi said the man has not produced such documents.
Even if Clark were the singer's son, Brizzi said attempted extortion is illegal.
Besides his career as the top-selling singer of "Whip Appeal" and "Change the World," Edmonds has also written hits for Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Bobby Brown and others.