WACO, Texas — A former Baylor basketball player was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison Wednesday for trying to get $1 million from Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III through extortion.
U.S. District Judge Walter Smith also ordered Richard Hurd, 26, to pay a $1,000 fine for threatening to release damaging information about Griffin last June.
“I messed up, and I’d like to apologize to my family,” Hurd said during a brief hearing. “I’ve embarrassed myself and them as well.”
Hurd could have been sentenced to as many as three years behind bars after pleading guilty in September to two charges relating to the scam — threatening to injure the reputation of another person and receiving the proceeds of extortion.
Griffin won the Heisman Trophy at Baylor last year, and he signed a contract worth more than $21 million after the Redskins made him the second player selected in the 2012 draft. The Redskins play at Dallas on Thursday, the rookie’s first pro appearance in his home state.
During a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Griffin referred to Hurd as his fiancee’s ex-boyfriend, noting that anyone who gains fame and money can be vulnerable.
“People do things like that when they’re angry at you or for whatever reason,” Griffin said. “For me, it’s extremely unfortunate, and you’ve just got to move on from it. It’s not anything I’m afraid of. It’s just sad.”
According to federal authorities, Hurd contacted Griffin’s agent and said he wanted $1 million. Otherwise, he would provide the media with information that would damage the former Baylor star’s reputation.
The agent then contacted the FBI, and, under its direction, went through with negotiations that led to Hurd agreeing to accept a far lesser amount — $120,000 — in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement. Hurd later was arrested by FBI agents after signing the non-disclosure document and collecting a check for the agreed-upon amount at a Waco law office.
Many of the court documents in the case have been sealed, and it’s unclear what information Hurd wanted to reveal.
During the hearing, Hurd’s attorney, Russ Hunt, told Smith that his client had done “something really stupid” but didn’t provide details. Hunt also declined to discuss the specifics of the plot after the court appearance.
Walking away from the court house, Hurd refused to talk about the case.
“The only thing I have to say is `Happy Thanksgiving’ and `Sic `em, Bears,”’ he said. “Any other cliche I can throw out there?”
Hurd played at Baylor as a walk-on from 2005 through 2008 after a high school career at Heritage Christian Academy in Cleveland, north of Houston.
A member of the Baylor basketball coaching staff, Jerome Tang, was Hurd’s coach at Heritage Christian and became the player’s legal guardian.
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