Ex-Boyfriend Extorted $15,000 From Her, Woman, 71, Testifies
A 71-year-old Sylmar woman testified Thursday that she gave her former boyfriend $15,000 because she believed that a Colombian terrorist organization would kill him and members of her family.
Suletta Watters said during a preliminary hearing in San Fernando Municipal Court that she gave Richard Ramirez, 68, of Burbank $5,000 on three occasions after he delivered threatening letters that demanded money to support a revolution.
The unsigned letters led Watters to believe that Ramirez was merely a messenger for the terrorist group and would be killed if she did not give him money, Watters testified.
“Life is in jeopardy,” one letter threatened. “He who disobeys suffers the consequences, which will be the violent death of your loved ones.”
‘Blood in Texas’
Another letter said it was Watters’ obligation “to help the revolutionary peoples” and threatened “blood in Texas,” where her brother and other relatives live, if she did not comply with the demand for money. It also said the life of her “symbolic husband” was in danger.
Ramirez was ordered to stand trial on three counts of extortion and one count of attempted extortion. If convicted of all the charges, he faces a maximum of 16 years in prison. Ramirez is in county jail in lieu of $75,000 bail.
Watters said that after he delivered the letters, Ramirez called her to arrange meetings when she gave him the money.
Prosecutors said that this was not the first time that Watters gave Ramirez money. Watters supported Ramirez for 15 years, paying him $90,000 in living expenses, after the two met at the company where Watters was a publications editor and Ramirez was a security guard, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Jacquelyn P. Lacey.
Watters fell in love with Ramirez, Lacey said, and he told her that he would marry her after he received $1 million from an estate settlement that was in litigation in Colombia. But in the interim, Watters complied with his request for money for living expenses, giving him a stipend of $500 a month during the 15 years, Lacey said. She also gave him large sums, which he told her he needed to pay for an operation and for attorneys in Colombia, Lacey said.
Broke Off Relationship
Watters broke off the relationship in 1986. She received the first letter asking for $5,000 in September, 1988. She complied with that and with a second letter demanding two separate payments of $5,000. A third letter, which she received on June 6, demanded two payments of $10,000 each.
Watters was prepared to comply with the third letter, Lacey said, but to get the money from the bank, she had to tell a relative who called the FBI.
Ramirez was arrested June 22 after police who searched his house discovered several blue envelopes with rose emblems on the back. The distinctive envelopes were the same type of envelopes in which the extortion letters had been delivered, Lacey said.