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A California woman who got $2-million (U.S.) from Celine Dion's husband to hush rape allegations three years ago lost most of the money gambling and is now broke, her former lawyer said.

Attorney Robert Langford said he withdrew as defence lawyer for Yun Kyeong Kwon Sung because she and her husband, Ae Ho Kwon, can no longer pay legal fees.

"They are as poor as church mice," Langford said this week. "They've got no money."

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Sung, 48, is charged in Clark County District Court with failing to repay about $900,000 (U.S.) in loans to Las Vegas casinos.

Langford withdrew from that case this week after withdrawing last month as Sung's lawyer on separate charges that she tried to extort money from Dion's husband, René Angelil, who paid $2-million to settle a March, 2000, rape allegation. Sung remains in custody at the Clark County Detention Center.

Kwon, 50, also is charged in the extortion case and is free on bail.

Langford confirmed Tuesday that Sung lost millions of dollars at Las Vegas casinos, and said that was why the casinos provided her with $900,000 in loans, known as casino markers.

Angelil's lawyer, David Chesnoff, said Sung's claim that Angelil raped her at a Las Vegas hotel stemmed from her money problems.

"Because she found herself without money, she resurrected these false allegations against Mr. Angelil," Chesnoff said of the extortion case. "Mr. Angelil is glad this is finally behind him." AP

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