Brookline man arrested on charges he tried to extort Hines Ward

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A Brookline man has been arrested on charges that he attempted to extort retired Steelers player Hines Ward through his personal assistant.

Investigators from the Allegheny County district attorney's office wrote in a criminal complaint that Joshua Van Auker, 26, sent Mr. Ward's personal assistant, Raymond Burgess Jr., a text message threatening to release materials "alleging that Ward committed the criminal offense of paying women for sex, and thereby exposing Ward to ridicule or contempt."

Mr. Burgess contacted investigators on Wednesday and told them that he thought Mr. Van Auker was trying to extort Mr. Ward because Mr. Van Auker believed that his girlfriend "had been involved in a prior physical relationship with Ward," according to the complaint.

Investigators said Mr. Van Auker demanded $15,000 and told Mr. Burgess, "It's called buying silence, brother."

Detectives set up Mr. Van Auker, sending Mr. Burgess to Sewickley with $15,000 earlier today and arresting Mr. Van Auker after he handed Mr. Burgess an envelope.

Mr. Van Auker is awaiting arraignment on two counts of attempted extortion.

Steelers - neigh_city - breaking

Liz Navratil:, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.


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