Karen Sypher pleads not guilty to extortion, making false statement - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Karen Sypher pleads not guilty to extortion, making false statement

The woman at the center of an alleged extortion plot involving U of L Basketball Coach Rick Pitino enters a not guilty plea to charges.

Karen Sypher was indicted Tuesday on charges that she used another person to try to extort money from Coach Rick Pitino and also make a false statement to a federal agent.

Wednesday she said there is another side to the story and that justice will prevail.  "I feel like there has been a very dark cloud over my family that follows us, that is so unjust and just unfair."

After making a brief appearance in U.S. District Court to enter a not guilty plea, Karen Sypher thanked a group of family and friends who turned out in her support:  "It makes me so much stronger than I am already... (I want to) tell my story."

And her attorney, Thomas Clay, said, "I think we can tell them that the presumption of innocencen is alive and well.  Her version will come out."

The FBI says Sypher asked a family friend to make phone calls to U of L Basketball Coach Rick Pitino in February of this year in an attempt to extort "millions of dollars" from the coach.

An affidavit states Sypher later lied to federal agents about knowing the identity of that person but later admitted to giving Pitino's number to Lester Goetzinger, a family friend.  The FBI says the alleged extortion attempt centers around an encounter Sypher had with Pitino in 2003.

Sypher and her attorney Thomas Clay say they are prepared for trial, which is set for June 29th.  Sypher says, "Justice will prevail. I have to believe in the justice system. I have to."

In a lengthy interview with Fox 41 News, Sypher made several claims about Pitino which this news organization is still investigating.  Court records show Pitino asked Sypher what she wanted.  Sypher says she produced a list of demands at a meeting with Pitino in early March at the Yum Center on U of L's campus.

The affidavit states her former attorney later sent a letter to Pitino's attorney asking for $10 million.

Sypher's younger son, Kaleb, said this issue has changed his family.  "The last three years that I've known. It's been horrible. I feel for my mom, I don't know what else to say. It's been tough for my mom."

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