UPDATE 1/31/12 @ 3:55 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A California man pleaded guilty to a federal extortion charge against the West Virginia Governor.
Harry Marshall Rae, 63, of Angels Camp, California, pleaded Tuesday to extortion by interstate communication.
In mid-September, 2011, just before West Virginia's October 4, 2011 special gubernatorial election, Rae made threats intended to extort $50,000 from the then-acting Governor of West Virginia and others.
In a series of email and Internet messages, Rae claimed he had secret video recordings from the greyhound racing business that would damage the Governor's election bid.
Rae threatened to release the recordings unless he was paid $50,000. The threat prompted an intensive federal and state investigation stretching from West Virginia to Florida to rural California, where Rae ultimately was tracked down through records of his Internet use. FBI agents arrested Rae near California's Yosemite National Park early on the morning of September 29, 2011, before he could carry out his threat.
Rae faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on May 2 at 1:30 p.m.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the West Virginia State Police. Counsel to the United States Attorney Steven Ruby is in charge of the prosecution.
A Friday U.S. District Court filing said that Harry Marshall Rae has a Tuesday plea hearing in Charleston.
A grand jury indicted Rae after he allegedly posted a threatening message on the governor's website. Investigators say the message was part of a $50,000 extortion attempt.
Rae is accused of threatening to release an undercover video showing cruel practices in the greyhound breeding industry. Tomblin's mother runs a breeding kennel, which became an issue during last year's special election for governor.
Rae alleged he was in talks to provide the video to Tomblin's Republican opponent, Bill Maloney. Maloney's campaign said it had no contact with Rae.
The search warrants are part of the federal case against Harry Marshall Rae. He faces a Dec. 19 trial after pleading not guilty Tuesday in Charleston.
Rae allegedly posted a Sept. 18 message on the governor's website threatening to smear Tomblin. The FBI says Rae was demanding $50,000 or he would release an embarrassing video involving the greyhound racing industry.
Tomblin's family raises greyhounds. That breeding business became an issue in the Oct. 4 special election for governor.
Rae alleged in emails he was negotiating to provide the video to the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney. Maloney's campaign said it had no contact with Rae.
Harry Marshall Rae faces a felony count alleging he sent a threat to Tomblin's office on Sept. 18.
The 63-year-old was arrested in California last month after he allegedly posted that message as well as emails to a West Virginia greyhound breeder.
Rae allegedly demanded $50,000 or he would release a video showing inhumane practices at an Oklahoma greyhound kennel.
Tomblin's family runs a breeding business. Rae alleged the video would harm Tomblin's election campaign by casting greyhound breeding in a negative light.
Rae also alleged that the campaign of Republican candidate Bill Maloney wanted the video. Maloney's campaign said it had no contact with Rae.
Tomblin won last week's special election.
A U.S. magistrate judge in California released Harry Marshall Rae from custody Tuesday pending an Oct. 18 court hearing in Charleston.
The FBI arrested Rae last week after he allegedly sent threatening messages to Tomblin's office and a Wheeling greyhound breeder.
Rae is accused of demanding $50,000 or he would release a video allegedly showing inhumane practices at an Oklahoma greyhound kennel.
Tomblin's family runs a breeding business. Rae alleged the video would harm Tomblin's campaign by casting greyhound breeding in a negative light.
Rae also alleged that Tomblin's Republican opponent wanted the video. GOP nominee Bill Maloney's campaign said it had no contact with Rae.
Tomblin won Tuesday's special election.
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