Man Sentenced For Trying To Blackmail Local School Official

MARLIN (March 20, 2014) A Marlin man who was found guilty in January of trying to extort money from a local school district official was sentenced Wednesday to serve two years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith, Jr., sentenced Reginald Ricks to 24 months on three counts and 24 months on a fourth separate count and then ordered the terms to be served concurrently.

Smith also ordered Ricks to serve one year on supervised release for each sentence and then ordered them served concurrently.

Smith also ordered Ricks to pay a total of $1,500 in fines and $300 in special assessments to the court.

Then Smith allowed Rick's lawyer to withdraw from the case on an oral motion, court documents show.

Ricks was found guilty by a federal court jury on Jan. 24 on three counts stemming from an attempt to extort a local school official last September.

Evidence presented during the half-day trial showed that on Sept. 24, 2013, FBI agents set up a sting in response to an alleged attempt to extort $4 million from the area educator.

FBI Agent Michelle Lee said Ricks was arrested following a short pursuit after he went to a local park to retrieve an envelope that contained $400,000 in cash and checks.

That's, the amount he agreed to accept to keep unspecified "derogatory information" quiet, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Ricks was booked into the Falls County Jail and was later freed on bond.

The arrest affidavit filed in the federal court says the victim, who was not named, contacted police on Sept. 14, 2013, and reported he was being blackmailed by a man who had threatened to make the derogatory information public, which could destroy his reputation.

The affidavit says the suspect initially demanded $4 million "in exchange for not disclosing the information "to the media, police, churches and the Texas Education Agency."

The threat was made through text messages which traveled out of state during transmission, the affidavit said.

After talking to the FBI agent, the victim agreed to go along with a ploy in which he would agree to make the payment of $400,000.

The victim sent a text message to Ricks agreeing to the payment and was instructed to put the cash and a check in an envelope and then to leave it in a local park, the affidavit said.

Agents staked out the park, watched as the victim placed the envelope in the prearranged location and then waited until Ricks arrived to collect the money, the affidavit said.

As the agents approached him, Ricks got into his car and attempted to flee and during the short chase that followed, he threw the cash and a torn-up check out of a car window, but officers later recovered them, the affidavit said.

Police also found one of the bills in Ricks' vehicle, the affidavit said.