Man tried to extort Louisville athletics
by USA TODAY Sports, USA TODAY
A federal grand jury has indicted a Jackson, Miss., man with trying to extort $3.5 million from the University of Louisville Athletic Association.
Thomas E. Ray, 35, was arrested Thursday morning in Mississippi by U.S. marshals, according to a statement from David Hale, U.S. attorney in Louisville.
According to the indictment, Ray, using the alias “Melinda White,” sent an email from his home April 23 threatening the university’s athletics reputation unless he was paid $3.5 million.
In a statement, Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich said he contacted Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and the NCAA within minutes of reading the email.
“We were confident that there was no truth to the accusations made in the communication,” Jurich said. Neither prosecutors nor Louisville athletics has described the accusations.
Ray could be sent to prison for up to two years and fined up to $250,000. Ray posted a $10,000 bond Thursday and was ordered to appear in Louisville District Court on Nov. 7.
Ray was convicted in 2005 of two counts of extortion and sentenced to 18 months in prison in a similar extortion case involving Best Buy. In that case, prosecutors said Ray tried to extort $2.5 million from the consumer electronics chain by threatening to expose purported flaws in the company’s computer system.
In that case, federal prosecutors said Ray used the name “Jamie Weathersby” to contact Best Buy in October 2003.
The Louisville athletics program has had a run of national prominence in 2013 with the football team winning the Sugar Bowl in January, the men’s basketball team winning the NCAA title in April, the women’s basketball team finishing as national runner-up in April and the baseball team reaching the College World Series in June.
Contributing: The (Louisville) Courier-Journal