2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Pittsburgh man gets probation in Hines Ward threat

By JOE MANDAK - Associated Press
    2013-04-26 12:30

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A man who pleaded guilty to trying to extort $15,000 from former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward will spend two years on probation.

The Associated Press could not immediately reach 26-year-old Joshua Van Auker for comment Friday on his guilty plea, which was entered with little fanfare Tuesday before an Allegheny County judge.

The attorney who represented Van Auker after his arrest last year, David Shrager, told the AP he had no part in the plea bargain, even though court records continued to list him as the defense attorney. Shrager believes the county public defender took over the case, but officials there didn't immediately return a call to confirm that.

Those same court records show Van Auker plead guilty to a lesser version of the original charge of attempted theft by threatening to expose a secret.

Ward's assistant, Raymond Burgess, contacted authorities last fall after Van Auker sent him a text message claiming to have damaging information. Detectives with the Allegheny County district attorney's office investigated and determined that Van Auker decided to make the demands after learning his girlfriend ``had been involved in a prior physical relationship with Ward,'' according to a criminal complaint.

The woman was not identified in the complaint, and authorities never described the information Van Auker claimed to have or said whether it was even true. A district attorney's spokesman didn't immediately comment Friday.

Whatever the case, after contacting investigators, Burgess again spoke with Van Auker, who repeated the extortion demand by saying, ``It's called buying silence, brother,'' the complaint said. Detectives who were watching that transaction in October arrested Van Auker.

Burgess has said the envelope contained only papers, not pictures, but has declined to otherwise describe its contents. Ward's manager, Andrew Ree, said then that the extortion attempt was ``the act of a desperate individual trying to get money from a celebrity.'' Ree didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Van Auker didn't comment on the charges after his initial court appearance and on Friday didn't answer a cellphone number used to contact him last year. The man who answered the phone said he had loaned Van Auker the phone last year, but doesn't currently know how to reach him.

Although he didn't represent Van Auker by the time he pleaded guilty, Shrager told the AP he thought prosecutors ``kind of gave the kid a good deal.''

When Van Auker was arrested, Shrager described his client as ``naive and inexperienced'' and apologized that Ward's name was dragged through the mud.

``Hines Ward's an essential part of Pittsburgh history. ... He's a great guy,'' Shrager said then.

Ward, 36, retired last year after 14 seasons with the Steelers. He had 1,000 catches for 12,021 yards, both franchise records, and was MVP of the Super Bowl XL, which the Steelers won in 2006.

Ward is now a commentator for NBC Sports and continues to be a marketable presence in Pittsburgh, where he has owned businesses and still appears on television commercials.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Jawan JamisonAug 1 11:52p

The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed free-agent RB Jawan Jamison (Redskins). Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived RB Alvester Alexander.

Kraig UrbikAug 1 11:22p

Buffalo Bills OGs Kraig Urbik and Cyril Richardson shared reps at right guard with the first-team offense during practice Friday, Aug. 1.

Riley CooperAug 1 11:12p

Philadelphia Eagles WR Riley Cooper's (foot) foot injury is not considered serious, and he should be able to return to practice in a few days, according to head coach Chip Kelly.

Daryl SmithAug 1 10:52p

Baltimore Ravens DT Timmy Jernigan (back), LB Daryl Smith (groin) and CB Lardarius Webb (back) did not participate in practice Friday, Aug. 1.

Adewale OjomoAug 1 10:12p

The Dallas Cowboys have signed free-agent DE Adewale Ojomo (Titans). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Calvin PryorAug 1 10:02p

New York Jets FS Calvin Pryor (concussion) said he will not change his playing style even though he suffered a concussion during training camp. 'I play physical, be aggressive, [ More ]

Alex GreenAug 1 09:42p

New York Jets RB Alex Green (chest) and WR Quincy Enunwa (hip) were able to participate in practice Friday, Aug. 1.

Eric DeckerAug 1 09:32p

New York Jets WR Eric Decker (hamstring) is expected to play in the team's scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 2. Decker was limited during practice Friday, Aug. 1, because of a hamstring injury.

James WhiteAug 1 09:22p

New England Patriots RB James White has been performing well during training camp and has shown a lot of maturity during practice, according to QB Tom Brady. 'He's done [ More ]

Tashaun GipsonAug 1 09:12p

Cleveland Browns SS Tashaun Gipson (knee) suffered a left knee injury during practice Friday, Aug. 1, and was scheduled to undergo an MRI on the injury.

John GrecoAug 1 09:12p

Cleveland Browns OGs Garrett Gilkey and John Greco split time at right guard with the first-team offense during practice Friday, Aug. 1.

Brandon HardinAug 1 09:02p

The New York Jets have released FS Brandon Hardin.

Bobby WagnerAug 1 08:52p

Seattle Seahawks WR Kevin Norwood (foot) and LB Bobby Wagner (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Aug. 1.

Knowshon MorenoAug 1 08:32p

Miami Dolphins RB Knowshon Moreno (knee) said he is feeling better but is not sure if he will be able to play in a preseason game. 'I don't know. [ More ]

Scott ChandlerAug 1 07:52p

Buffalo Bills TEs Scott Chandler (groin) and Tony Moeaki (hamstring) are not participating in practice Friday, Aug. 1.

Chris WilliamsAug 1 07:52p

Buffalo Bills TE Lee Smith (undisclosed), OG Chris Williams (toe) and OG Chris Hairston (back) are participating in practice Friday, Aug. 1.

Mike AdamsAug 1 07:42p

Indianapolis Colts SS Delano Howell, FS Sergio Brown, FS Mike C. Adams and FS Colt Anderson have all received snaps with the first-team defense during training camp. FS LaRon [ More ]

Scott ChandlerAug 1 07:22p

Buffalo Bills TEs Chris Gragg and Dominique Jones may be the only two tight ends that are able to play in the Hall of Fame game because of injuries [ More ]

Marshawn LynchAug 1 07:22p

The Seattle Seahawks officially reinstated RB Marshawn Lynch from the Reserve/Did Not Report list Friday, Aug. 1.

Taylor PriceAug 1 07:12p

Seattle Seahawks released WR Taylor Price (hamstring) from the Reserve/Injured list with an injury settlement Friday, Aug. 1.

Trevardo WilliamsAug 1 07:02p

The Houston Texans placed LB Trevardo Williams and OT Bryan Witzmann (undisclosed) on no-recall waivers Friday, Aug. 1. Witzmann was placed on waivers with an injury designation.

Michael SmithAug 1 05:42p

The New York Jets signed RB Michael Smith (Buccaneers) Friday, Aug. 1. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Joe AdamsAug 1 05:22p

The Houston Texans signed WR Joe Adams (Panthers) Friday, Aug. 1. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Terrence ToliverAug 1 05:02p

Free-agent CB Brandon E. Smith (Bills), WR Terrence Toliver (Bears), TE Brett Brackett (Dolphins) and OG Jared Smith (Seahawks) all officially cleared waivers and became free agents Friday, Aug. 1.

Jared AbbrederisAug 1 04:32p

The Green Bay Packers fear WR Jared Abbrederis (knee) suffered a torn acute cruciate ligament in practice Thursday, July 31.

Josh GordonAug 1 03:32p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is not expected to get a decision on his appeal hearing until Monday, Aug. 4, at the earliest.

Troy KropogAug 1 01:22p

New York Giants OT Troy Kropog (foot) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Friday, Aug. 1.

Jesse WilliamsAug 1 01:12p

Seattle Seahawks DT Jesse Williams (leg) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Friday, Aug. 1.

Datone JonesAug 1 01:12p

Green Bay Packers DE Datone Jones reported to camp at 285 pounds, which was his playing weight as a rookie, and he said he lost body fat and feels [ More ]

Randall CobbAug 1 01:02p

Green Bay Packers WRs Randall Cobb, Myles White and Jared Abbrederis were returning punts in practice Thursday, July 31. White struggled Wednesday, July 30, but looked better Thursday. White [ More ]

Max StarksAug 1 01:02p

The Arizona Cardinals signed OT Max Starks (Rams) Friday, Aug. 1. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Mike NealAug 1 01:02p

Green Bay Packers LB Nick Perry (foot, knee) and LB Mike Neal (abdomen) have both been activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list and have joined training camp practices.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group