Louisiana man pleads not guilty in scheme to extort Texas professor

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 26, 2013 10:42 PM
Louisiana man pleads not guilty in scheme to extort Texas professor

(Reuters) - A Louisiana man pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to a charge he used an underage girl to lure and extort money from a Texas A&M University professor who later jumped to his death from a campus parking garage earlier this year.

U.S. prosecutors allege Daniel Timothy Duplaisir, 37, took pictures of an underage female relative and used her to lure James Arnt Aune into a sexually explicit online relationship.

Duplaisir then sent Aune, 59, threatening text messages and emails demanding money, claiming to be the girl's angry father and threatening to tell authorities if he wasn't paid $5,000.

"Your Dad texted me ... and then called me and told me he was going to turn me into the police," Aune wrote in an email addressed to the girl, according to a criminal complaint filed by prosecutors.

"I answered and said I would do whatever he wanted. I sent him $1,000 and then promised more," the email read.

In January, Aune, jumped to his death. According to court documents, authorities said Aune sent a text message just minutes before he committed suicide that read: "Killing myself now And u will be prosecuted for blackmail."

Aune was the head of the Department of Communications at Texas A&M University.

Duplaisir entered his not guilty plea in federal court in Houston, Texas, his lawyer, Margy Meyers, said.

(Reporting by Kevin Gray in Miami; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)