A grand jury has indicted a Johnson City man on charges that he tried to blackmail a gospel singer by threatening to reveal the performer is gay.
Walbert Keith Farmer, 39, was arrested by FBI agents earlier this month and indicted last week on federal extortion charges.
Farmer is accused of demanding nearly $15,000 from Kirk Talley, a Dove Award-winning and Grammy-nominated singer who lives in Kodak, in exchange for not telling Talley’s recording company about his sexual conduct.
Farmer met Talley in an Internet chat room, Farmer’s attorney Scott Pratt said. Talley told the FBI the Internet was the only place he felt he could meet men, according to court documents.
Talley told FBI agents the alleged blackmailer first contacted him on Nov. 28.
Farmer allegedly told the singer he would give Talley e-mails Talley had written to other gay men and recordings of two conversations involving Talley in exchange for money.
Talley reported the alleged threats to the FBI on Dec. 8 and met with Farmer at a Knoxville restaurant the next day. Farmer was arrested after leaving the restaurant without the money Talley had brought for him.
Farmer’s arraignment has been set for Jan. 5 in U.S. District Court in Knoxville. He is free on a $20,000 recognizance bond.