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Housekeeper's daughter guilty of trying to extort from mom's employers

Sept. 10, 2013 at 5:03 PM

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Sept. 10 (UPI) -- A South Florida woman was convicted Tuesday of trying to extort $3 million from the prominent family that employed her mother for 15 years.

Camille Brown, 32, of Plantation was found guilty after a two-day trial in West Palm Beach, The Palm Beach Post reported. A judge ordered her jailed immediately pending sentencing Oct. 18, where she faces 15 years in prison.

Jurors deliberated for about half an hour before reaching a verdict.

Brown's mother, Coleen Parkes, worked for Rowland Schaefer, who built the Claire's chain of jewelry stores into an international company, and his wife as a housekeeper and caretaker at their mansion in Hollywood, Fla. Bonnie Schaefer, the couple's daughter, testified Monday she received an e-mail from Brown shortly after Parkes was dismissed in 2012 with the subject line "Letters from home," the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

Prosecutors said Brown tried to extort $3 million from the family by saying she had letters written by Rowland's wife that would be embarrassing if released to the news media.

"It's clear that the defendant made threats to expose these alleged family secrets," Lawonda Athouriste, the prosecutor in the case, said Monday. "It's clear she was trying to bring shame on the Schaefer family."

Brown's lawyer, Arye Corbett, argued Monday that his client was upset because her mother had been dismissed in a telephone call and was simply trying to get some reason for it. He said she was not interested in money.

James Born, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent, recorded conversations with Brown posing as a representative of the Schaefer family.

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