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Delay in Hines Ward extortion case

Oct. 24, 2012 at 1:37 PM
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PITTSBURGH, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- A preliminary hearing for a man accused of attempting to extort money from former Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward was postponed until Dec. 3.

David J. Shrager, attorney for the accused, Joshua Van Auker, 26, said he required time to investigate the case, adding, "I'm going to need to research," describing his client as an "inexperienced young man. This is surreal for him."

Detectives with the Allegheny County, Pa., District Attorney's Office charged Van Auker with attempted extortion after they say he sent a text message to Ward's personal assistant, Raymond Burgess Jr., threatening to release information alleging Ward paid for sex, and demanding $15,000 to stay quiet.

In a follow-up telephone call to Burgess, Van Auker allegedly said, "It's called buying silence, brother," detectives said.

Van Auker thought his girlfriend had a prior relationship with Ward, Burgess told investigators.

Van Auker was arrested Thursday after a sidewalk meeting that included the passing a law enforcement-provided envelope to Van Auker and an envelope of presumed information against Ward to Burgess, the criminal complaint states.

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