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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Mississippi man was charged with attempting to extort $3.5 million from the University of Louisville Athletic Association by a federal grand jury Thursday. The man allegedly tried to threaten U of L with allegations of point-shaving by the basketball team during the NCAA Tournament last spring.
Kentucky attorney general Jack Conway said that U of L athletic director Tom Jurich contacted his office and the NCAA one day after Jurich received an email from 35-year-old Thomas E. Ray on April 23. Ray, who was convicted of trying to extort Best Buy in 2005, used the alias "Melinda White."
Conway said his office coordinated its investigation with the U.S. attorney's office and the FBI. He said it was quickly determined the charges were not credible. He also said the case had no connection to the current suspension of Louisville basketball player Chane Behanan.
"No, no, no," Conway said.
"The University of Louisville athletics department was the victim here. The e-mail is not credible ... First of all the so-called Melinda was hiding his identity. Secondly, the individual indicted today has a prior conviction for trying to extort a company some years ago.
"Thirdly, the activity that is proposed in the e-mail would constitute a number of crimes, including bribery and obstruction of justice. And fourth, we did take appropriate steps in looking at the e-mail and the description of some person being in custody, regarding the NCAA and point-shaving. No such person was in custody."
Louisville won the 2013 NCAA Tournament. According to the website www.vegasinsider.com, Louisville covered the point spread in 11 of their final 13 games. The two exceptions were Louisville's victories against Oregon and Wichita State.
"This e-mail was one notch above a Nigerian cousin," Conway said.
A one-page indictment of Ray was unsealed Thursday and White was charged in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Miss. He posted a $10,000 bond and ordered to appear in Louisville District Court Nov. 7. If convicted, Ray would face a maximum fine of $250,000 and two years in prison.
University of Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich said in a statement he immediately reached out to Conway and the FBI after reading an email in April. This was his statement:
"Within minutes of reading the communication in April, I reached out to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway as well as the NCAA. The matter was shortly thereafter turned over to the FBI and has been a federal investigation and prosecution since that time. We were confident that there was no truth to the accusations made in the communication. We will have no further comment at this time on this ongoing federal prosecution."