Georgina Mae Pinheiro

Extortion charges stem from affair started online

A Medford couple are jailed on charges of theft by extortion for an alleged attempt to blackmail a married man who had a relationship with the woman.

Georgina Mae Pinheiro, 44, of the 400 block of Grape Street, Medford, and Jeffrey Lynn Kenton, 47, of the same address, each face a count of theft by extortion and are lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $50,000 bail.

The victim of the blackmail attempt — a 42-year-old married man — contacted Medford police on Saturday to report harassment, Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen said.

The man reported that about a year ago he contacted a woman online at seeking "company." He struck up a relationship with the woman, whom police identified as Pinheiro.

When he tried to break off the relationship, the woman said she would contact his wife and tell her everything unless he paid her $500. He paid that demand and similar demands continued through several months, police said.

Early this month, Kenton — claiming to be Pinheiro's husband — contacted the man and demanded additional money, threatening to send the whole story to the man's wife by e-mail if he didn't pay up again, police said. The man once again paid a large sum of cash.

Kenton and Pinheiro demanded money from the man again on Saturday, police said. This time, he went to police, so, when he arranged a meeting with the suspects, they were taken into custody by officers waiting with the man, Hansen said.

Police said the pair had demanded $4,100 from the victim before they were arrested Monday.

Kenton has a lengthy criminal history with theft, fraud and racketeering convictions in his past.

Most recently he pleaded guilty in September to a first-degree theft charge linked to what police called "a planned-out business of defrauding people" at an upholstery shop called Cover Concepts on Table Rock Road. He was ordered to undergo drug treatment or face jail time.

When the scheme was uncovered in July, investigators said Kenton and a co-conspirator that he lived with, 39-year-old Amie Jo Harris, would take money to perform reupholstering work on boats and recreational vehicles, then demand additional payments for materials and other supplies as the project dragged on, uncompleted. When customers came to claim their vehicles to take them to other shops to get the work done, Kenton would demand large cash payments before returning the vehicles, police said.

Harris pleaded guilty to second-degree theft and negotiating bad checks in that case and was sentenced to 18 months probation and ordered to pay more than $1,000 in restitution. She sought a restraining order against Kenton in August.

Pinheiro, identified as Gina Mae in court records, also has sought restraining orders against Kenton in 2005, 2007, 2008 and in February, before filing for divorce in March. The divorce petition was dismissed in November.

In 2000, he was convicted of two counts of racketeering and sentenced to two years in prison for scamming elderly homeowners through an unlicensed contracting business.

Kenton's criminal history, however, dates back to 1984, when he was reportedly the first person in Jackson County to be convicted of first-degree manslaughter in a traffic death. A passenger in his pickup died after the truck became airborne, then rolled on a stretch of Beeson Lane known as "Thrill Hill" in Talent, Mail Tribune archives show.

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