Karen Sypher faces charges of extortion, lying to federal agents - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Karen Sypher faces charges of extortion, lying to federal agents

We're continuing to follow a developing story on the alleged extortion plot against U of L basketball coach Rick Pitino.  Late Tuesday afternoon, a federal grand jury indicted Karen Sypher on charges she tried to extort money from Coach Rick Pitino and that she made a false statement to a federal agent.

The FBI says she failed a polygraph test and lied about knowing the identity of the person who allegedly made threatening phone calls to Rick Pitino.

Sypher's attorney Thomas Clay called this a logical step in the prosecution:  "Anytime a person is charged in federal court, it's a very serious matter. And this indictment certainly is no exception."

In an a lengthy interview with Fox 41 News, Sypher made several claims about Pitino, which cannot be verified at this time.  Sypher is the estranged wife of U of L basketball equipment manager Tim Sypher.

An FBI affadavit says her extortion attempt stems from an encounter she had with Pitino in 2003.  Court records show she admitted to urging another person to try to extort "millions of dollars" from Pitino.

Sypher claims Pitino asked her to present a list of demands, which she did at a meeting with Pitino at the Yum Center on U of L's campus.

Sypher was already charged, but Tuesday's indictment means a preliminary hearing on this case Wednesday will not happen, preventing her attorney from cross-examining the feds in this case.  Clay says, "I think the United States is always interested in foreclosing efforts of discovery at any stage of the prosecution."

The U.S. Attorney's office says the charges carry a penalty of up to seven years in prison, a half million dollar fine, or six years of supervised release.

Sypher will be arraigned on those charges at federal court Wednesday afternoon.

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