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Disney World Vacations Linked to Lengthy Extortion Operations, Police Confirm

wdw crowds
Credit: Darren Gundling on Unsplash

The Walt Disney World Resort is one of the world’s most popular and expensive tourist destinations, but that still does not excuse the long-running extortion scheme that a Utah man used to fund his trips.

Crowds at Walt Disney World Resort

Credit: Marc Smith / Flickr

Walt Disney World is visited by tens of millions of people every year, with families often spending thousands of dollars per trip to Magic Kindom. The expense of a Disney vacation (including the Disneyland Resort and Parks around the world) is becoming ridiculously prohibitive for many Guests, leading to widespread complaints and disillusionment.

Related: High-Speed Police Chase Captures Accused Violent Torturer Outside Disney World

It does not help that Disney World has been increasingly plagued by theft rings, violence, and drunken outbursts, leading many families to reconsider whether it is actually as child-friendly as the company has always promised. But while many people commit crimes in the park itself, others commit crimes for years to get there.

Leallen Blackhair, a Utah man from Uintah Basin, has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison after extorting local businesses for years in order to fund vacations to theme parks, shopping sprees, and his personal expenses (per the Department of Justice). According to a release, Blackhair extorted $109,925 from local businesses over the course of three years, during which he served as Compliance Supervisor for the Energy and Minerals Department of the Ute Tribe.

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park with only a few people around it.

Credit: @ResortTV1 via @DisneyGlimpses

The Ute Tribe is a self-governing organization in Northeastern Utah, which has nearly 3,000 members and oversees 4.5 million acres of land, the second largest Indian Reservation in the United States. According to the Justice Department, 95% of revenue for the Ute Tribe comes from reservation oil and gas businesses, making it a key part of survival in the year.

In his capacity as Compliance Supervisor, Leallen Blackhair was responsible for

“[I]ssuing fines to oil and gas businesses working on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation that violated their access permits and business licenses. Blackhair used his position to induce and attempt to induce multiple companies to pay him personally by offering to reduce a fine that would otherwise be assessed against them. Blackhair extorted sixty-six payments totaling $109,925, between August 2010 and May 2013. In December 2022, Blackhair pleaded guilty to eight counts of extortion and one count of attempted extortion.”

Related: Man Arrested at Magic Kingdom After Crime Spree Involving Teenager

Composite image featuring iconic disney theme park landmarks: epcot's spaceship earth, cinderella castle, and the hollywood tower hotel, set against a dramatic sunset sky.

Credit: Disney Parks

Apparently, Blackhair specifically targeted small mom-and-pop businesses, using his tribal authority to threaten their ability to conduct business on the reservation. Federal authorities say that he used the money he extorted from local businesses to fund “trips to Disneyland, Legoland, Las Vegas, Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Pictures, airfare, hotels, rental cars, dining and shopping.”

In addition to 18 months’ imprisonment, Blackhair was sentenced by Federal District Court Judge Jill N. Parish to three years’ supervised release and $18,000 in restitution.

Why has the crime rate at Disney World been rising so sharply? Tell us in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic

About Nathan Kamal

Nathan Kamal is a Chicago-based writer and comic, who enjoys cooking, hanging out with his cat, and seeing as many movies as possible.

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