Sypher faces new charges including retaliation against Pitino


by Melanie Kahn

Posted on November 18, 2009 at 10:10 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 19 at 12:57 AM

More charges have been brought against Karen Cunagin Sypher, the woman accused of trying to extort millions of dollars from Rick Pitino including one count because she went to the police.

Karen Cunagin Sypher was already facing two charges of extortion and lying to the FBI, but now she’s facing four more counts, one of them for retaliation against a victim when she told police Pitino sexually assaulted her.

In June, WHAS11 was there as Karen Cunagin Sypher went to police to file criminal charges against Rick Pitino and federal prosecutors call that retaliation.

"They've accused her of deliberately going to the local authorities and trying to drum up charges against Pitino that were false and that the reason she did it was to intimidate him or harass him and there was really no legal basis to bring them," said Scott C. Cox, former U.S. Attorney.

Prosecutors won't comment beyond a news release but Cox told WHAS11 the extortion case against Sypher has been unusual from the beginning.

"Her conduct post-indictment has been very unusual.  The statements that she has made the media, that's unusual, the allegations that she's leaked, some of the discovery to the media is rare.  The fact that she's kind of involved her children in her media campaign is very rare.  Having her kids out in front of the courthouse carrying signs... That's basically unprecedented," said Cox.

The original indictment had two counts, extortion and lying to the FBI and now there are 4 more counts that she tried to extort money a second time then mailed a threat to Pitino, and that she lied again to the BI and retaliation.

Cox says the new counts send Sypher a message.

"In my experience, the U.S. Attorney’s office is telling her with this new indictment, we've had enough from you and we're going to do everything we can to convict you.  We're going to bring as many charges as we can against you and we're going to seek a long prison sentence," said Cox.

After Sypher filed that police report, Jefferson County's top prosecutor said it was quote "without merit", and Rick Pitino has never been charged with a crime.

However, despite the retaliation charge, Sypher is not facing any charges for filing a false police report.

We have not been able to reach Sypher or her attorney.

A spokesman for the University of Louisville's Sports Information Office had no comment.