Man accused of scamming Hines Ward waives hearing

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A Brookline man accused of trying to extort money from retired Pittsburgh Steelers star Hines Ward waived Tuesday his right to a preliminary hearing.

Joshua R. Van Auker, 26, is next scheduled to appear March 11 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court for formal arraignment.

Investigators from the district attorney's office have charged Mr. Van Auker with two felony counts of attempted extortion, accusing him of trying to squeeze $15,000 from Mr. Ward's personal assistant, Raymond Burgess Jr., in exchange for not releasing allegedly damaging information about the former wide receiver.

In October detectives set up Mr. Van Auker, sending Mr. Burgess to Sewickley with $15,000 and arresting the defendant after he handed Mr. Burgess an envelope.

Attorney David J. Shrager waived the hearing in Pittsburgh Municipal Court, Downtown, on behalf of his client. Mr. Van Auker is free on nonmonetary bond.

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