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Defendant Admits to Plot Involving West Virginia’s 2011 Special Gubernatorial Election

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – An Angels Camp, California man pleaded guilty today to a federal extortion charge in connection with last year’s special gubernatorial election held in West Virginia, announced U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. Harry Marshall Rae, 63, pleaded guilty in federal court before United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. to extortion by interstate communication.

In mid-September, 2011, just before West Virginia's October 4, 2011 special gubernatorial election, Rae made threats intended to extort $50,000 from the then-acting Governor of West Virginia and others.

In a series of email and Internet messages, Rae claimed he had secret video recordings from the greyhound racing business that would damage the Governor's election bid. Rae threatened to release the recordings unless he was paid $50,000. The threat prompted an intensive federal and state investigation stretching from West Virginia to Florida to rural California, where Rae ultimately was tracked down 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. 

Rae faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on May 2, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the West Virginia State Police. Counsel to the United States Attorney Steven Ruby is in charge of the prosecution. 

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