by Doug Brown
A Middleburg Heights man was charged in federal court yesterday, accused of extorting a wealthy married Stark County businessman who he accused of causing a Parma woman's rectal boils.
David A. Zehnder, 45, is accused of demanding $125,000 from the businessman, who had met a 32-year-old Parma woman last August on the extramarital dating website ashleymadison.com. The man acted as a "sugar daddy" to the woman, according to the complaint, paying her monthly for sex and her company. They met about 11 times and he paid her between $30,000 - $40,000, he told the FBI.
Meanwhile, the businessman developed "a boil in his rectum which required surgery," the complaint says, and "according to the Female, she later developed a similar boil."
The woman's anal boil is when David Zehnder enters the scene. He's the woman's pimp, according to the man, and when he arrived at the woman's Parma home on April 6, Zehnder was waiting for him there wearing rubber gloves and holding a club threatening violence if he didn't pay up.
Zehnder said the woman was "damaged merchandise" because of the boil, and that was going to "cost" the victim: he'd either have to provide $125,000 or there would be "serious physical harm" and that he'd tell the man's wife about his actions with the woman. Zehnder made the man go to the bank and give him $10,000 in cash that day, with the rest paid in installments. According to the complaint:
ZEHNDER stated no one would know and this would all go away so long as victim did as instructed. Victim took this to mean ZEHNDER would tell Victim's wife of his transgressions should he not pay. Victim was further threatened that if the authorities were called, ZEHNDER had "others" in place to carry out his plans should he be arrested and unable to do so. Victim was fearful ZEHNDER would harm him or his family should he not pay the extortionate demand.
Sometime before April 15, the man went to the FBI, because the agency set up surveillance outside of the Parma home and was able to record the meeting when the businessman met Zehnder there that day.
He arrived just before noon last Wednesday to meet with Zehnder and pay the next installment. Zehnder held up a legal notepad with the words "no talking," but Zehnder "began to speak out of frustration" because the man was questioning the payments and why it was being done at the home.
"Stop!" Zehnder is recorded saying. "You don't get it, man. This is business. You don't get it. This is business."
According to the FBI, Zender is also accused of saying "'Cause if I don't get my money... I already told you, there's more than just me." And "You made millions. Listen, listen, listen. If you had kept seeing her for the next two years, you would've spent this anyways."
After Zehnder was assured the man wasn't wearing a wire, he said "I'm gonna get mine. One way or the other. And like I said, if you take me down, I'm not the only one. This is part of this whole world you don't understand." Later: "If you cause trouble for me personally, that's gonna cause a fucking shitload of trouble for you. Do you understand? I'm very valuable. Do you understand? The people I work with are not gonna be happy if something happens to me."
Zehnder also confirmed, while being recorded, that he demanded $125,000 from the man.
Zehnder is charged with knowingly affecting interstate commerce by extortion by threat of physical violence and knowingly transmit in interstate commerce a communication as part of a threat to injure another person to extort money.