Popular Mexican radio host Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo on Monday in a Los Angeles court filed a civil suit for "blackmail and extortion" against six former members of his team on the program "Piolin por la mañana."

The host's attorneys said in a statement released Monday that the suit is their client's response to his former colleagues' attempt to "blackmail" him for $4.9 million.

Jeffrey Spitz, one of the lawyers representing Sotelo, said that the alleged extortion attempt was one of the most brazen, shameless and contemptible examples of blackmail he had ever seen in his life.

The lawsuit was filed against Domingo Rodrigo Ochoa, Tomas Alejandro Fernandez, Samuel "Cusuco" Heredia, Sergio "Checo" Vera, Gerardo "Chiquirruco" Palencia and Bertha "Betushca" Velasco - all former members of the show's staff - and their lawyers.

The host - whose extremely program radio show helped with the massive mobilizations of immigrants in protest marches in 2006 - is "surprised" by the conduct of his ex-colleagues and "personal friends," according to the legal complaint.

In the suit, it is recalled how Piolin offered work to five of these plaintiffs, despite the fact that they "did not have any experience in communications media," and over the course of time he authorized raises, loans and additional payments for them made by his personal production company.

In 2006, the plaintiffs, according to what the suit alleges, agreed to demand an amount of money from Sotelo by threatening that if they didn't receive it they would all leave the program at the same time.

In the face of the alleged plot, Univision asked that the plaintiffs be fired for insubordination, but Sotelo not only arranged to allow them to keep their jobs but got the company to increase their salaries.

Several years later, two of them were fired by Univision for low production in their work and the firm had to let the other four go as part of the "personnel reductions established throughout the company."

Despite having lost their jobs, several of the plaintiffs, upon leaving, expressed their "gratitude" to Sotelo for the opportunities he had offered them and at that time none of them said that they had been the victim of sexual harassment or intimidation, according to the lawsuit.

However, in August, just three weeks after Alberto "Beto Cortez, scriptwriter, producer and participant in the program accused Sotelo of harassing him "physically, sexually and emotionally" over the course of three years, the six surprised Piolin with a letter accusing him of a serious breach of proper conduct.

Following that, the plaintiffs offered via their lawyers to "seal their lips" and take their complaints "to their graves" if Piolin gave them $4.9 million.

Piolin's defense team presented the letter "as an obvious act of a blackmail conspiracy" that continued when the plaintiffs' lawyer demanded the money "to buy his clients' silence."

So far, none of the plaintiffs or their lawyers have responded to the suit or have made any public comments about it.

In late July, Sotelo and Univision decided to conclude their working relationship after 10 years. Just two weeks later, the popular host signed a contract with Sirius radio. EFE