Police: Photo supports Curtis' claims of extortion

Police: Photo supports Curtis' claims of extortion »Play Video
Surveillance photo captured at the Davenport Hotel.
SPOKANE -- Richard Curtis, the state lawmaker who resigned amid a sex scandal, may be the latest victim in a string of men who have been targeted by a team of extortionists.

Cody Castagna has adamently denied blackmailing Curtis. But after days of investigating, police said Castanaga is a part of a group who went after the now-former state representative.

Spokane police detectives released surveillance photo of a man who they said went to the front desk of the Davenport Hotel, asked for an envelope and walked away with Curtis' money.

Police have only identified the man as a friend of Castagna who took part in the extortion.

Curtis resigned last week amid revelations he had sex with Castagna at an adult video store.

According to police reports, the two then went to the Davenport Hotel. There, Curtis claims, the 26-year-old stole his wallet and demanded $1,000. Curtis said he only had $200, which he left at the hotel's front desk.

Police said Castagna may be part of a larger group that targets gay men for extortion. In Curtis' case, the group designated a flower pot at a Spokane part as the drop-off point for the remaining $800.

Detectives believe the group has done this before.

"There were multiple threats and payoffs," said Sgt. Joe Peterson. "In this instance it seems like it was not the first time and we've been told by other people it's not the first time the suspects have done this type of thing."

Spokane police are releasing few details and said at least three different people are involved, including Castagna's cousins. They urge any other victims of extortion to contact Spokane police.

Curtis, a Republican state legislator who repeatedly voted against gay rights measures, resigned his seat last month.

In a written statement, Rep. Richard Curtis, of La Center, said that while he believes he's done a lot of good during his time in the Legislature, "events that have recently come to light have hurt a lot of people."

He publicly apologized for the incident, but has insisted to his local newspaper that he was not gay and that sex was not involved in what he said was an extortion attempt by a man.