Oct 18, 2012


PITTSBURGH (WTAE) — A 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with trying to extort $15,000 from retired Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward in an attempt to have his “silence” paid for.

According to the district attorney’s office, a personal assistant to Ward received a text message from a number belonging to Josh Van Auker on Oct. 17.

In the text, Van Auker indicated that if he did not receive the money, he would either sell or release materials alleging Ward paid women for sex, according to the criminal complaint.

Ward’s assistant told detectives that Van Auker believed his girlfriend had been in a relationship with Ward, and when he found out about it, threatened to expose the former Steeler unless he received the money, according to the complaint.

The assistant said Van Auker told him, "It’s called buying silence, brother,” according to the complaint.

One day later, on Oct. 18, the assistant met Van Auker on Broad Street in Sewickley and gave him $15,000 that was provided by police, according to the complaint.

Van Auker then handed the assistant an envelope containing the materials that would allegedly expose Ward, according to the complaint.

Detectives with the district attorney’s office arrested Van Auker after the exchange and charged him with two counts of attempted extortion.

Van Auker was awaiting arraignment in night court on Thursday evening.

A representative for Ward, who retired in March after 14 seasons with the Steelers, said they are also investigating the incident and would not be commenting at this time.

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