Hines Ward victim of alleged extortion attempt

Jared Wickerham

A Pittsburgh-area man allegedly attempted to extort $15,000 from Hines Ward in exchange for not revealing material about alleged affairs.

A Pittsburgh-area man has been arrested on two counts of attempted extortion for demanding $15,000 from Hines Ward for silence about an alleged affair of Ward's.

The man, a 26-year-old from Brookline named Joshua Van Auker, allegedly contacted Ward's personal assistant with the threat of exposing Ward for paying for sex with women. Van Auker was apparently under the belief that Ward had been involved in a "physical relationship" with his girlfriend.

He asked via text message for the $15,000 in exchange for not going public with the material. Police set up a meeting between the assistant where Van Auker believed he would be handed an envelope with the money inside, but instead he was arrested.

Ward, now 36, retired after 14 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers this past season. The wide receiver was named to four Pro Bowls and was the MVP of the Steelers' Super Bowl XL victory.

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