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Mogul behind The Smurfs handed probation

Stuart R. Ross, who bought the rights to the animated blue characters in the 1980s and launched them in the U.S., was arrested in 2008 and accused of attempting to extort money from his wealthy son-in-law David Blitzer.

He entered a guilty plea to charges of attempted grand larceny in August (10), but subsequently attempted to withdraw his plea and assert his innocence.

Ross’ defence attorney Matthew Myers claimed his client, who has been suffering from alcoholism, cancer, pneumonia and heart disease, only accepted the plea deal because he was being held in prison without bail at the time.

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A New York judge refused to allow the motion and sentenced Ross to probation on Tuesday (21Dec10).

He was also ordered to undergo therapy and stay away from Blitzer and his family.

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