08/14/2003 at 12:00 AM EDT
Los Angeles photographer John Rutter has been charged with attempting to extort $3.3 million from Cameron Diaz over topless pictures he had taken of her in a private photo session before she became famous, reports Reuters.
Rutter stands accused of trying to make the star pay up in order to stop him from selling the pictures to a media outlet, and he has also been charged with allegedly forging Diaz's signature on a release form giving him permission to sell the snapshots.
Diaz, 30, has already launched her own civil suit against Rutter to prevent the pictures, taken when she was 21, from being made public.
Rutter was reportedly arrested at his Venice, Calif., home on Tuesday (which Reuters reports was his 41st birthday) and charged with attempted extortion, attempted grand theft and perjury, as well as two counts of forgery, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the L.A. County District Attorney's Office.
He faces a maximum of six years in prison if convicted. Bail has been set at $250,000, and a court appearance is scheduled for Thursday.
Last month, when the "Charlie's Angels" star sought an injunction to halt the release of the photos, Rutter denied attempting to extort money, telling TV's "Access Hollywood" he had contacted Diaz's lawyers to offer her the photos as a matter of courtesy before offering them to media outlets.
"This was a negotiation for a right of first refusal with Cameron Diaz's lawyers," said Rutter. "A few hours after her lawyers offered to buy the photos my place was raided."
Last week, the judge in the case issued a temporary order to keep the photos sealed until their fate is decided in court.