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The latest in the extortion case involving Tyrann Mathieu

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

More information has emerged about the allegations made against Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu during Wednesday’s bond revocation hearing for Geourvon Keinell Sears.

Here’s what we know

Sears, 21, is Mathieu’s cousin. He is under federal indictment for attempting to extort more than $1 million from Mathieu to prevent Sears from publicly releasing allegations of sexual misconduct against Mathieu. Court documents in the case allege that Sears contacted Mathieu by phone and text, demanding amounts ranging from $1.5 million to $5 million for his silence. Sears is also accused of making threats against Mathieu’s family in those communications.

Sears was originally released on $25,000 bond after his arrest earlier this week, but it was revoked after Wednesday’s hearing revealed he had removed the ankle monitor he was required to wear while free on bond.

During that hearing, Sears’ attorneys Claude Kelly and Celia Rhoads presented testimony from two witnesses — Sears’ brother George and his mother Toya Robinson — alleging that Mathieu had made threats against them via text and social media as well.

While the communications that resulted in the charges against Sears are not part of the public record, the messages Sears’ family say contained threats against them are available. They were published by The New Orleans Advocate on Thursday. The messages are the basis for the family’s claim on Wednesday that Mathieu had threatened them.

According to reporting from New Orleans television station WDSU, Sears’ family testified in the bond revocation hearing that Sears’ actions were in response to the threats from Mathieu they believed were contained in these messages. The Advocate story speculated that the messages presented in court may represent a preview of the defense Sears might offer when and if the case comes to trial; Sears has not yet made a plea in the charge against him.

Under the federal statute for extortion, it’s unclear such a defense would carry much weight: Under 18 U.S. Code § 875 (d), it is a federal crime to extort “any money or other thing of value“ to prevent “any threat to injure the property or reputation” of another via interstate commerce — in this case, a cell phone. If the Sears family believed Mathieu had threatened them, they could have gone to the authorities themselves — rather than commit another crime. Under the same section of the U.S. Code, even the threat to injure another person via interstate communication is also a crime.

In conclusion

Mathieu’s agent Denise White released a statement describing the matter as a “very private and personal family issue,” saying that Mathieu was “dealing with a family member who is dealing with a mental health issue.”

Sears’ attorney said in court on Wednesday that Geourvon and George Sears lived with Mathieu during the time he played for the Arizona Cardinals from 2013 through 2017, but moved back to New Orleans when Mathieu went to the Houston Texans in 2018.

Mathieu’s attorney Scott Rosenblum released a statement saying, “Once Mr. Mathieu decided to stop assisting these individuals financially, they turned to harassment, slander and extortion to gain financially.”

It remains to be seen if this is a case where an actual crime has been committed, or if it is simply a sad example of a family dispute over money that went horribly off the rails.

Sears’ next court appearance is scheduled for June 21.

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