KENNEWICK — A Kennewick woman choked back tears in court Thursday as she told a former friend how much she hates him now for threatening to send out copies of a sexually explicit video of her unless she paid him $9,000.
Finding out that Scott David Sylvester -- a friend she used to trust being in her own home -- was behind the threats "is what hurt the most," she said
"I would like to tell Scott that I don't know what I did to you to make you feel like you had to do that to me. I hate you, and I don't hate anybody," said the victim, who is not being named by the Herald because of the sexual nature of the case. "You threatened my life for $9,000 that you didn't even get. I hope it was worth it."
The woman said she wished that Sylvester could be locked up for longer than the agreed six-year term, "but I will take what I can get. ... Have a nice vacation."
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Sylvester, 42, was sentenced to prison Thursday, a week after pleading guilty in Benton County Superior Court to second-degree extortion, possession of methamphetamine and two counts of tampering with a witness.
He received five years for the extortion and another year for the drug charge, time that must be served back-to-back. The four years and nine months for each of the tampering charges will be served at the same time.
Sylvester's co-defendant in the case, Melody Jane Swett, recently was sentenced to a one-year, four-month prison term. Swett, 55, pleaded guilty to second-degree extortion.
According to Kennewick police and court documents, a 39-year-old woman received a DVD and a letter in the mail last July with the threats and demand for money. The explicit tape had been stolen a couple years before when the woman's home was burglarized.
"The letter advised the victim that she was being watched and not to contact the police," court documents said. "The victim received a second letter in the mail threatening to kill her if she did not comply with demands."
The suspects reportedly planned to put the video on the internet and give it to area businesses.
The victim immediately went to police, who helped her draft a response that said she would only hand over the money in a public place. That response was left at a location specified in the second letter, documents said.
A third letter followed, along with three phone calls from a man. It was on the third call that the victim recognized the man as Sylvester.
She agreed to meet the suspects at the Columbia Center mall Sept. 9. Multiple undercover officers on scene saw a gold sedan linked to Sylvester circling the parking lot, court documents said.
Swett confronted the victim and gave her a bag with the DVD and a note that "threatened harm to the victim if the exchange did not go as planned." She reportedly told police that an unknown man had paid her to deliver the note to his wife.
Swett had a walkie-talkie in her pocket and an identical walkie-talkie was later found in a gold sedan at Sylvester's home.
Court documents said that Swett and Sylvester "are known associates" and live in the same house.
Copies of the video recovered by officers "appear to have been made by recording the original video while it was being played on a TV." Swett's bedroom is reportedly visible in the reflection of the TV screen.
Deputy Prosecutor Kristin McRoberts told the court Thursday that Sylvester, while in the Benton County jail, made phone calls to his mother giving the addresses of the victim and the woman's mother's workplace. He encouraged his family and friends to go talk to the women and get them to drop the charges, McRoberts said.
What is most disturbing, the deputy prosecutor told the court, is that the victim's original recording never has been found. Multiple copies had been made and distributed on car windshields at the workplace of the victim's mother, she said.
Sylvester's computer was seized as a part of the investigation and will be destroyed, McRoberts said.
Given the seriousness of the offenses, this is "a fair resolution," she said, adding that more witness tampering charges will not be filed as a part of the deal.
Sylvester's parents briefly addressed the court to say they have come to find out their son "has had a long-standing drug addiction" that has interfered with his daily life, and when Sylvester is not using drugs he is a totally different and loving person.
Dan Arnold, Sylvester's lawyer, said his client is a compassionate person who takes full responsibility for what happened and doesn't want to hurt the victim. He said that Sylvester has a serious drug problem but as a part of negotiations they agreed not to ask for a Special Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative.
"Scott is adamant that he get drug treatment, and I'm equally adamant that he needs it," Arnold said. "... The drugs have done their evil."
Sylvester cried when he apologized to his parents "for placing this burden on you."
He told the victim that what was charged as witness tampering really was "my way of trying to explain myself."
"I'm so sorry, so very sorry, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart," Sylvester said as he faced the woman, who briefly glanced at him before breaking down into tears in her mother's arms. "I'm a failure when I'm using. ... I apologize to all the people I hurt."
Judge Robert Swisher told the victim "it took a lot of guts to come up here and talk to him, and I appreciate that."
Swisher agreed with the defendant and his parents that Sylvester has a drug problem, but said treatment won't work if the person is forced into it.
"It just doesn't work. You've got to want it," he said. "I suspect, Mr. Sylvester, I think you want it."
Swisher told Sylvester that it's up to him "to seek it out" while behind bars for several years.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org