Athlete In Pregnancy Shakedown

FBI: Man sought $150,000 in St. Louis extortion scheme

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Athlete In Pregnancy Shakedown

JANUARY 24--An Illinois man tried to extort a six-figure payment from an unnamed "professional athlete," claiming that his daughter was impregnated by the athlete shortly after they met late last year at a St. Louis nightclub, according to federal investigators.

An FBI affidavit (a copy of which you'll find here) alleges that George Edwards, 48, met with a friend of the pro athlete--who is only identified as "P.A."--and reported that his daughter Laura was pregnant and "wanted money." The athlete's friend then offered "several thousand dollars to have George and Laura, then 22, leave P.A. alone," wrote FBI Agent Dustin Sorrells.

Soon, one of the athlete's sports agents was negotiating with George Edwards to pay $25,000 to "obtain a DNA test to establish paternity." If the child was the athlete's, he was prepared to pay Laura Edwards an additional $125,000.

In January, a second agent for the athlete traveled from California to St. Louis to deliver the $25,000 payment to George Edwards. Days later, Edwards called the agent and claimed that Laura had suffered a miscarriage, but that he still wanted the $125,000 payment. And if he didn't get the money, Edwards warned, he would file a legal claim against the athlete and "make P.A.'s affair with Laura public."

It was at this point that the athlete and his agents apparently first contacted the FBI. In a subsequent monitored phone call, when the second agent agreed to the $125,000 hush money payment, Edwards repeatedly assured him that, in return, he "would not notify the Associated Press, the Sporting News or any other media outlet either directly or through his attorney."

As part of the deal, Edwards was supposed to turn over "some recordings and photographs which presumably documented Laura's relationship with P.A.," the affidavit notes.

George Edwards was arrested Monday and charged with extortion, a felony which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is in custody pending a detention hearing scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Laura Edwards has not been charged. (3 pages)