Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers may have heard that an area man has been charged with attempting to blackmail former star wide receiver Hines Ward. The suspect, 26, is accused of asking Ward's personal assistant for $15,000 in exchange for not releasing evidence he said showed that Ward had visited a prostitute. He was arrested in mid-October and was scheduled to have a preliminary court hearing on Oct. 23, but that hearing has been rescheduled for December.
According to prosecutors, the suspect contacted Ward's assistant via text message and told him he had evidence that Ward had paid a woman for sex and asked for money for "buying silence." The assistant called prosecutors, who arranged for detectives to observe him and the suspect meet Oct. 18. At that meeting, the detectives said they observed Ward's assistant give the suspect money in exchange for an envelope supposedly containing evidence against Ward.
The detectives arrested the suspect after the exchange. An article about the arrest does not mention the specific contents of the envelope, but says police said the evidence is not sufficient to pursue a case against Ward.
The preliminary hearing was postponed after the suspect's attorney said he needed more time to examine the evidence and otherwise prepare. The new date for the hearing is Dec. 3.
Ward played for the Steelers for 14 seasons before retiring following the 2011 season. He is also known for winning "Dancing With the Stars" in May 2011. Ward apparently did not know about the alleged extortion attempt until after the arrest, according to an article about the case.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Court date postponed for alleged Hines Ward extorter," Oct. 23, 2012