Sypher indicted with trying to extort Pitino


Posted on August 15, 2009 at 6:45 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 13 at 1:56 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- The estranged wife of a longtime aide to Rick Pitino was indicted Tuesday on federal charges of trying to extort money from the Louisville men's basketball coach and lying to the FBI.

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Karen Cunagin Sypher, 49, faces a combined maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted of the two charges, federal authorities said. Sypher is the estranged wife of Louisville equipment manager Tim Sypher.

Sypher will be arraigned in U.S. District Court on Wednesday. Her attorney Thomas Clay said she will enter a plea of not guilty.

The case became public last month when Pitino released a statement saying someone had tried to extort him. Pitino said he reported it to the FBI, and Karen Sypher surrendered to authorities a few days later when she was named in a criminal complaint.

The complaint said Tim Sypher brought Pitino a written list of demands from his wife, including college tuition for her children, two cars, her house paid off and $3,000 per month. The demands later escalated to $10 million instead.

Authorities have not said what sort of information Karen Sypher might have been trying to use to extort Pitino. They have said the coach believed it was related to an unspecified 2003 encounter with her.

Pitino is the only college basketball coach to reach the Final Four with three different schools -- Louisville, Providence and Kentucky, where he won a national title.

He also led the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks in the NBA.

A Louisville spokesman declined comment Tuesday, as did Pitino attorney Steve Pence.

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