- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 6, 2011

LOUISVILLE, KY. (AP) - The woman convicted of trying to extort money from Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino will report to prison on Wednesday after being denied another request to remain free during her appeals.

Karen Cunagin Sypher had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to keep her out of prison while she appeals her conviction and 7-year sentence. The court denied the request Tuesday, siding with a lower court judge who rejected the request last week.

Sypher’s attorneys have asked the appeals court to reconsider its ruling. She was convicted in August of extortion, lying to the FBI and retaliation against a witness. Prosecutors say she sought millions from Pitino to stay quiet about a 2003 sexual encounter.

Sypher is in Florida and will report to the women’s minimum security federal facility in Marianna early Wednesday afternoon, said James Faller, an investigator on Sypher’s legal team.

While in prison, Sypher will have a job assignment, and will be required to have her room clean in advance of 7:30 a.m. inspections Monday through Friday, according to the facility’s website.

Since being convicted, Sypher has hired a new legal team and claimed a broad conspiracy involving Pitino, the federal trial judge and Sypher’s former attorney to ensure she would be found guilty. Her attorneys have also requested a new trial.

Faller said Sypher’s attorneys will continue to fight for her release while her appeals are continuing.

Her attorneys have asserted in recent court filings that phone calls to Pitino demanding money were made by more than one person, which contradicts testimony at the federal trial in Louisville. Lester Goetzinger testified that he made the three calls in exchange for sexual favors from Sypher, but Sypher’s attorneys now say a different man made the third call, and without Sypher’s knowledge. On that call to Pitino, the caller threatened to take the case to the media.

U.S. District Judge Charles Simpson found that claim to be “wholly unsupported by evidence” in a ruling on Friday.

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