Married Lawyers Charged With Blackmailing Married Men

9-1-05 - A pair of lawyers, married to each other, has been charged with the blackmail of four married men who had affairs with the wife.

Ted and Mary Roberts, attorneys in San Antonio, allegedly used legal petitions and confidential settlements to collect at least $123,000 from the men.

The grand jury indictment issued Wednesday alleged that the couple's actions crossed the line between legal negotiation and criminal coercion.

"You can rest assured that I believe that lawyers are held to the same standards as everyone else in the community," Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed said. "The law doesn't carve out the word 'lawyer'" for special protection.

Ted H. Roberts, 48, and Mary Schorlemer Roberts, 49, face up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000 if convicted.

Their lawyer, Mike McCrum, said the Robertses have been unfairly accused.

"I believe they're innocent," he said. "And I believe that once the evidence is brought out fairly and objectively, everyone will see they have committed no crime and should not be indicted."

An FBI investigation concluded there wasn't enough evidence to warrant federal prosecution.

The state case involves legal petitions that Ted Roberts prepared, with some help from his wife, essentially telling the men he might notify their spouses and employers.

The state indictment accuses both lawyers of three counts of theft an offense that, under Texas law, encompasses extortion.