A man charged with attempting to extort over $1 million (£0.5 million) from Hollywood couple Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes is expected to plead guilty later today.

David Hans Schmidt, 47, could face up to two years in federal prison and a $250,000 (£124,000) fine after he agreed the single-count guilty plea, the Associated Press news agency reports. He is expected to plead guilty to sending communications for purposes of extortion.

Mr Schmidt allegedly demanded money from the A-list pair in return for illegally obtaining thousands of images of their wedding in collaboration with 33-year-old data recovery expert Marc Lewis Gittleman.

The criminal complaint claimed the latter stole the images from the damaged hard drive of the wedding's official photographer, before assisting the services of Mr Schmidt to help him gain money for them.

The press have dubbed Mr Schmidt the 'Sultan of Sleaze' for his previous attempts at procuring money from celebrities.

Reported cases linked to him include footage of skater Tonya Harding's wedding night and various images of recently-jailed celeb Paris Hilton in a state of undress.

31/08/2007 11:33:30