Arizona Man Sentenced for Trying to Extort Former Georgia Tech Head Coach

Arizona Man Sentenced for Trying to Extort Former Georgia Tech Head Coach
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The man who extorted former Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball Coach Josh Pastner has been sentenced to prison, according to the Department of Justice.

57-year-old Ronald Bell was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison, according to a news release.

Bell recruited a security guard to falsely claim that the guard witnessed an assault by its basketball coach in exchange for part of the extortion payout he expected to receive from the university.

Ronald Bell tried to extort Georgia Tech and ruin the reputation of its basketball coach,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “As federal prosecutors, we have a responsibility to the citizens of this district to pursue accountability and justice for crimes of sexual violence. But in this case Bell attempted to exploit the mission of our office, and law enforcement partners, to combat sexual assault through a brazen effort to enrich himself at the expense of Georgia Tech and a member of its staff. Bell has now been held accountable for his crime.”

Channel 2 Action News has been following this case involving Bell, a former friend of Pastner’s, and Pendley since 2017.

Bell and Pastner became involved in a public dispute after Bell provided impermissible benefits to two Tech basketball players in violation of NCAA rules. He claimed Pastner encouraged him.

Pastner filed a defamation lawsuit. Pendley and Bell countersued with accusations that Pastner sexually assaulted Pendley in a Houston hotel room in 2016. Pastner was coaching the Memphis Tigers at the time.

Investigators later determined the assault did not take place and instead discovered an extortion plot.

Federal prosecutors say Bell recruited a Georgia Tech security guard to lie about witnessing the assault. He also promised the guard a share of $20 million he thought they could receive.

Bell also allegedly demanded money from Georgia Tech in exchange for not reporting the sexual assault claims. The security guard later admitted to school officials that his statements were not true and Bell asked him to participate in the extortion plot.

During the extortion attempt, Bell texted a Georgia Tech representative: “This is going to get very ugly. GT has made no effort  to amicably resolve this  I guess this has to get ugly. I tried to resolve this without damaging GT’s reputation .

After Georgia Tech refused to pay Bell, Pendley filed a lawsuit claiming sexual battery, sexual assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. These claims falsely alleged that the guard witnessed the coach sexually assault Pendley. Ultimately, the security guard admitted that his statements were false and that Bell asked him to lie to support the false sexual assault claim.

Bell’s prison stint will be followed by three years of supervised release.

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