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Coss then told Stamos a man was harassing her about having incriminating photos of the pair. Stamos said there was nothing to worry about.

“I’ll bust him up. … We didn’t take any bad pics. I’m too smart,” he said in one e-mail.

Coss and Sippola finally posed as “Brian L,” a man who claimed he had pictures of Stamos with drugs and strippers and had been offered $780,000 in a tabloid bidding war. They offered to sell him the pictures for $680,000 but never produced them. Stamos _ and prosecutors _ say they never existed.

“I don’t think Shakespeare could write a story to set up a fake blackmail scheme to set up a real blackmail scheme. But that is exactly what they did,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Maarten Vermaat said in closing arguments.

“This is completely 100 percent made up,” he said of the “get-rich-quick scheme.”

Defense attorney Sarah Henderson told jurors Coss and Sippola were “in over their heads” but didn’t commit a crime and believed they were transacting a legitimate business deal.

“What happened to the pictures? I don’t know the answer to that. I wish I did,” Henderson told the jury, adding that it would be a “stretch” to believe Coss and Sippola would craft a plot but have nothing to sell to Stamos or the tabloids.

The defense contended the compromising photos were lost or destroyed during the FBI raid. Agents repeatedly denied that under questioning by Henderson.

Defense lawyer Frank Stupak Jr. said the verdict was disappointing but the trial was fair.

The four-day trial created a sensation in Marquette, a city of 20,000 on Lake Superior. Fans waited hours outside the courthouse to get Stamos‘ autograph and pose for photos with him as he came and went.

“He seems like a really decent guy,” Lisa Pohlman, 44, said while waiting for a glimpse of the actor. “I really feel bad that he got dragged into this.”