Sypher trial date set; says, "justice will prevail"
By Bennett Haeberle, WDRB-TV Fox 41 News
A day after being indicted, Karen Sypher made a brief appearance in U.S. District Court Wednesday where she entered a not guilty plea to charges of extortion and lying to a federal agent.
Afterwards, she thanked a group of family members and friends who gathered in front of the courthouse to offer support.
"I feel like there has been a very dark cloud over my family that follow us. This is so unjust and just unfair," Sypher said.
The group of about eight people held signs some saying, "Karen Sypher is the victim" and others read "there are two sides to the story."
Sypher said of the group's support: "It makes me so much stronger than I am already -- (I want) to tell my story."
Kristi Block, who is Sypher's neighbor, said: "I think everyone needs to know the truth and this is the start of finding out what the real truth is."
The FBI says Sypher asked a family friend to make phone calls to UofL Basketball Coach Rick Pitino in February of this year in an attempt extort "millions of dollars" from the coach.
The feds say the extortion attempt stems from an encounter Sypher had with Pitino in 2003.
Sometime after that, she met her now-estranged husband, Tim Sypher, the UofL basketball team's equipment manager.
When Karen Sypher was asked by a reporter if she wanted the public to know anything, her attorney Thomas Clay interrupted, adding: "I think we can tell them that the presumption of innocence is alive and well... and that her version will come out."
Part of the affidavit to the original complaint states Sypher gave Pitino's cell phone number to Lester Goetzinger, a family friend. Court records show she later lied to federal agents about knowing that person.
Sypher told reporters she is ready for trial, which is set for June 29th.
"Justice will prevail. I have to believe in the justice system. I have to," she said.
In a previous interview with Fox 41 News, Sypher made several claims about Pitino which this news organization is still investigating.
Court records show Pitino met with Sypher and asked her what she wanted.
Sypher says she presented this list when they met in early March at the YUM Center on UofL's campus.
Her former attorney later sent a letter to Pitino's attorney asking for $10 million.
Sypher's younger son, Kaleb Wise, 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," he said.
Pitino has kept a relatively low-profile since the university sent out a statement nearly a month ago.
His attorney, Steve Pence says his client continues to cooperate with authorities.
While Karen Sypher is the lone defendant in this case, the FBI says more people could be charged.