Lawyer: Probe 'about wrapped up'

Updated: April 20, 2009, 8:32 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The attorney for a woman who Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino says is attempting to extort him said Monday he thinks the FBI will finish its investigation soon.

Thomas Clay, the attorney for Karen Sypher, said he understands the FBI investigation "is about wrapped up" and he anticipates that the findings will be acted upon very soon. "If the decision hasn't already been made, it'll be made soon," Clay said in a phone interview with ESPN.com's Pat Forde. "I wouldn't be surprised to see something as soon as today or [Tuesday]."

However, a source close to the investigation told ESPN.com later Monday afternoon that, while the FBI's work is largely done, it's unlikely to be finalized in the next 24-48 hours.

Meanwhile, Karen Sypher finds herself in the eye of the storm, and reiterated Monday she doesn't feel she has done anything wrong.

"I'm standing up for my rights and feeling like I don't have a lot of them at this moment," she said Monday. "I'm just waiting for the truth to come out."

The story has led every newscast since it broke Saturday night and has lit up Louisville basketball chat boards and local radio talk shows.

"Rick Pitino is one of our Fortune 500 companies," said local radio talk show host Terry Meiners. "He is the face of the Louisville program and in many ways he's the steward of our pride and self-image."

In a statement released by the University of Louisville on Saturday, Pitino said he reported threats of extortion by Sypher to authorities last month. The statement did not specify the nature of the threats.

On Saturday, FBI spokesman David Beyer confirmed there was an ongoing investigation into Pitino's complaint and that no other law enforcement agencies were involved. Beyer did not name the target of the investigation.

Karen Sypher is the estranged wife of one of Pitino's staff members, equipment manager Tim Sypher.

Clay told ESPN.com that Karen Sypher will not pursue any civil claims against Pitino.

"I want to make it clear that I intend to vigorously defend my reputation and the character of my family against any criminal scheme to extort money," Pitino said in the Louisville statement. "I am hopeful the media and public will recognize the slanderous nature of this direct and malicious attack."

Pitino did not want to go public with the news but decided Saturday afternoon to issue a statement, after news organizations began inquiring about the issue.

"I recently learned that the individual behind this extortion attempt has already gone to the media with false, defamatory and outrageous allegations in an attempt to pressure me to cave in to this scheme," Pitino said.

A Louisville source told ESPN.com that Pitino began receiving threatening phone calls in late February from Sypher and possibly other accomplices, and the calls continued throughout the Big East and NCAA tournaments. In late March, Pitino called the FBI and apprised it of the attempt to extort him.

Tim Sypher issued a statement through the school Sunday morning.

"I am devastated by the bizarre allegations that my estranged wife is making against both Coach Pitino and myself," the release said. "At this point, my primary concern is for my young daughter and four stepsons, both to the impact of their mother's actions on them, as well as the impact on Coach's family and the university.

"I love my children, and want to protect them," the statement said. "At the same time, I intend to defend the allegations vigorously and will have no additional comment at this time."

The Syphers are in the process of getting divorced. A Jefferson County Family Court docket listing showed that the two were scheduled to appear for a dissolution hearing on April 13.

Karen Sypher recently did a lengthy interview with the Louisville Fox affiliate, WDRB-41, but the station reported Saturday night that it "has decided not to relate details of her claims at this time."

WDRB news anchor Candyce Clifft, who conducted the interview with Karen Sypher, said the station has chosen not to air it because "we couldn't substantiate the claims she was making."

Clifft said the claims against Pitino were "of a personal nature, not related to his recruiting or coaching. That's all I'm at liberty to say."

Clifft said Sypher approached WDRB with the information.

Clifft said she interviewed Sypher for nearly two hours on-camera, in the presence of WDRB's general manager and news director. Afterward, the station had an independent polygraph expert administer a lie-detector test to Sypher -- a test she agreed to do before the interview.

Clifft said that the polygraph test could have any of three results: pass, fail or inconclusive. She said Sypher's test fell into the inconclusive range. Clifft said there were some questions she asked that Sypher did not answer conclusively or convincingly, which heightened the station's concerns about the veracity of her information.

Coupled with the fact that there were no criminal complaints filed or charges levied, the station decided not to air the interview.

"I don't know if we'll ever air all or any of the interview," Clifft said. "Right now there are no plans to do that."

A call to Pitino's attorney, Steve Pence, by The Associated Press on Saturday evening was not immediately returned.

Information from ESPN.com's Pat Forde and The Associated Press are included in this report

ALSO SEE