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Woman found guilty in Rick Pitino extortion case

August 5, 2010 | 12:11 pm

Karen_200 Karen Cunagin Sypher was found guilty of three counts of extortion, two counts of lying to the FBI and one count of retaliating against a witness Thursday after she demanded millions of dollars from Louisville basketball Coach Rick Pitino, the Associated Press is reporting.

The case involved an after-hours sexual encounter between the two at an Italian restaurant and threatening phone calls and two letters Pitino received demanding cash and gifts for Sypher to keep quiet about the incident.

During the eight-day trial, prosecutors showed the jury a handwritten note from Sypher that asked for cars, tuition for her children and her mortgage to be paid off.

Sypher did not testify, but jurors heard her version of events when prosecutors played a never-broadcast TV interview where she claimed Pitino raped her.

Pitino, the star witness in the trial, testified she came on to him and the sex was consensual. He was never charged with rape.

As the verdict was read, Sypher closed her eyes, then opened them and stared at the ceiling. One of her sons sitting in the front row with other family members wept.

Sypher, 50, will be sentenced Oct. 27. She faces a maximum sentence of 26 years in prison, but under federal sentencing guidelines, the penalty will likely be lighter.

-- Chuck Schilken

Upper photo: Karen Cuangin Sypher leaves the federal courthouse Wednesday. Credit: Ed Reinke / Associated Press