CHARLESTON — A California man was sentenced Wednesday to six months in prison and a year of supervised release for trying to extort money during last year’s special gubernatorial election.
Harry Marshall Rae, 63, of Angels Camp, Calif., was sentenced by United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. for extortion by interstate communication, announced U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin in a press release issued Wednesday. Rae previously pleaded guilty in January.
Rae admitted that he planned the extortion scheme in connection with last year’s special gubernatorial election held in West Virginia and said that in mid-September 2011, just before the October 4 special gubernatorial election, he made threats intended to extort $50,000 from then-acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and others.
Rae also admitted that through a series of email and internet messages, he claimed he had secret video recordings from the greyhound racing business that would damage Tomblin’s election bid. The threat came just days before the special election was held.
As part of the scheme, Rae threatened to release the recordings unless he was paid $50,000. The threat prompted an intensive federal and state investigation which spanned from West Virginia to Florida to rural California, a press release from Goodwin’s office said.
Law enforcement ultimately tracked the defendant through records of his internet use. FBI agents arrested Rae near California’s Yosemite National Park early on the morning of September 29, 2011, before he could carry out his threat.
The court ordered that six months of Rae’s one year of supervised release term must be served on home confinement.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the West Virginia State Police. Counsel to the United States Attorney Steven Ruby handled the prosecution.
Tomblin won the election and is currently seeking the Democratic nomination in Tuesday’s primary.
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