Accused extortionist's father says his son is a victim of identi - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Accused extortionist's father says his son is a victim of identity theft

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Mississippi man accused of trying to extort millions from the University of Louisville's athletic department appeared Thursday before a judge in Louisville.  Prosecutors say Thomas Ray tried to illegally cash in on U of L basketball.

Thomas Ray III pleaded not guilty.  He's accused of essentially trying to blackmail the U of L Athletic department -- and it's not the first time Ray has faced this kind of charge.

"He's innocent. That's it," said Thomas Ray, Jr., the defendant's father as he and his son left Federal Court.

Thomas Ray III is accused of sending an email to U of L Athletic Director Tom Jurich from his home in Mississippi.

According to authorities, Ray, using the name Melinda White, threatened to publicly accuse a player on the men's basketball team of point-shaving, unless the Athletic Association gave him $3.5 million.

Jurich contacted Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who says both his cybercrimes unit and federal authorities traced the email to Ray's computer:  "The individual who was indicted today has a prior conviction for trying to extort a company some years ago."

That company was Best Buy.  Back in 2004, Ray was convicted in Minnesota of two federal counts of extortion.  He had sent emails to Best Buy threatening to trash the company's computer system, unless he was paid $2.5 million dollars.

Ray spent 18 months in federal prison.  His father told WDRB's Lawrence Smith what was behind that case, and this one:  "Same kind of set up....Identity theft."  He maintains his son is innocent.

Ray is free on $10,000 bond.  If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison and a possible quarter-million-dollar fine.

In a previous statement, U of L denied any accusations made in the email and said it would have no further comment.

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