Ohio woman to plead guilty to blackmailing former Bethany College cashier

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An Ohio woman accused of enjoying the proceeds of blackmail in a bizarre extortion case involving two couples, an Internet romance and the theft of more than $1 million from Bethany College is set to plead guilty in a West Virginia courtroom.

Rachaelle Weese, 26, of Calcutta, gave notice Tuesday that she will plead June 18 in U.S. District Court in Wheeling.

Ms. Weese and her husband, Jason Weese, are accused of extorting Shelly Lough, 46, of Wheeling, by threatening to turn evidence of her online affair with Jason Weese to Ms. Lough's husband unless she paid them off.

A former cashier at Bethany College, she met their demands by embezzling $1 million from the school.

Ms. Lough and Mr. Weese had an online-only relationship in 2011 and 2012. When she broke it off, according to federal prosecutors, the Weeses began threatening her and demanding payments in exchange for their digital media devices, such as cell phones and digital drives, containing details of the affair.

According to the FBI, Ms. Lough met with Mr. Weese at Bethany College 15 times to deliver bundles of cash in exchange for the devices.

The U.S. attorney's office said Mr. Weese came up with the idea and his wife decided to participate and capitalize on it. The couple used the stolen money to buy vehicles, jewelry and other items.

Ms. Lough, a witness in the federal case against the Weeses, pleaded guilty to theft in state court and was sentenced in April to two to 20 years.


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