Woman in Pitino extortion case faces new charge

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The woman accused of trying to extort
money from Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino was charged
Wednesday with retaliating against the coach by falsely claiming he
raped her.
A federal grand jury in Louisville brought four new criminal
charges against Karen Cunagin Sypher, including retaliation against
a witness.
The FBI, Louisville police and prosecutors have said there was
no basis for her rape allegations. She said the coach raped her in
a criminal complaint filed after she was indicted in May on charges
of trying to extort money from Pitino.
The grand jury also added two intent to extort charges and a
second charge of lying to the FBI.
The sordid case became public in April when Pitino said he had
told the FBI that someone had tried to extort money from him. Weeks
later came the first indictment against Sypher.
Sypher has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of trying to
extort money from Pitino and lying to the FBI. She is accused of
demanding college tuition for her children, her house to be paid
off and $10 million.
The coach subsequently told police that he had a consensual
sexual encounter with Sypher in 2003.
A call to Sypher's attorney, James Earhart, was not immediately
returned on Wednesday. Sports information director Kenny Klein
referred questions to Pitino's attorney, Steve Pence. Pence did not
immediately return a message seeking comment.
The new indictment adds allegations that Sypher had someone call
Pitino on March 6 as part of an extortion plot. The indictment also
alleges that Sypher had a threat mailed to Pitino on March 22.
The original indictment alleged that Sypher prompted threatening
calls on Feb. 26 and 28. The new indictment repeats that
allegation.
The retaliation charge stems from a report Sypher filed with
Louisville police in June. The indictment says Sypher made the
charge knowing it would be harmful to Pitino.
The new lying to the FBI charge centers on statements attributed
to Sypher that her relationship with a subject of the extortion
probe was "strictly business." The grand jury charged that Sypher
had an "intimate personal relationship" with the person.
Sypher's longtime friend, Lester Goetzinger, agreed to testify
against her. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to clear his record of
charges against him.
Prosecutors said Goetzinger left three voice mail messages on
Pitino's cell phone between Feb. 26 and Feb. 28 at Sypher's
request. Goetzinger's attorney, John Berry of Louisville, has said
Sypher traded sexual favors in exchange for the calls.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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