Seagal Battling the 'German Mafia'?

01/09/2003 at 12:48 PM EST

Perhaps action star Steven Seagal ought to have starred in "Married to the Mob."

Seagal, 51, has filed a lawsuit against members of what he calls the "German Mafia," saying they attempted extortion and threatened to harm his body and career.

According to The Smoking Gun Web site, Seagal seeks unspecified damages for "severe anxiety, emotional distress, humiliation and mortification."

The suit, filed Dec. 19 in Los Angeles Superior Court, names Edeltrud Vorderwuhlbecke as a defendant.

Seagal claims he rented Vorderwuhlbecke's property in late 2001 while filming a movie. When the actor departed last January 2002, he left behind only minor damage, Seagal said.

According to the suit, the home was subsequently rented to another (unidentified) party, who caused extensive damage that Vorderwuhlbecke blamed on the actor and his crew.

Then, starting in February of last year, says the lawsuit, Seagal began receiving threats to defame or harm him. The actor's attorney, Robert E. Young, tells the Associated Press that Vorderwuhlbecke was trying to "extort" money from his client.

Representatives for the defendant could not be located for comment.

Last summer, Seagal's former partner and reputed Gambino crime family mobsters were charged with trying to extort money from the actor. In November, the FBI arrested a Los Angeles private eye on weapons charges after agents said the detective hired an ex-con to threaten a reporter for writing about the Gambino-Seagal case.

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