'Elmo' Sent to Jail as Times Square Characters Raise Concerns
(Reuters) - A bogus costumed Elmo, who collected tips for cuddling children in family photos in New York's Times Square, was sent to jail for a year on Wednesday for trying to extort $2 million from the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Dan Sandler, 49, a one-time temporary worker for the Girl Scouts, was sentenced after pleading guilty to charges local media said stemmed from his threats to go public with false information that the organization arranged sex between men and young girls at a scout camp.
His one-year term for attempted grand larceny and stalking follows Sandler's unrelated 2012 arrest for an anti-Semitic tirade also while dressed as Elmo, and the arrest in April 2013 of a fake Cookie Monster, who shoved a 2-year-old child whose mother failed to tip him after taking a photo.
The action comes amid growing concerns expressed by public officials and businesses over the unregulated street performers who dress up as Sesame Street, Disney and other characters while roaming midtown soliciting tips after posing for tourist photos.