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Ex-Guard Convicted of Extortion

February 14, 2002

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) _ A former prison guard was convicted Thursday of shaking down wealthy, well-connected inmates for money, trucks, security jobs and sports tickets.

William D. Coger Jr. could get up to seven years in prison and $500,000 in fines on three counts of extortion or attempted extortion.

Several inmates at the federal Robert F. Kennedy prison in Morgantown testified that Coger threatened to put inmates in solitary confinement or strip them of credit for good conduct if they failed to deliver what he wanted. One accused him of assault.

The defense said the inmates offered the guard money because his house had burned and his wife had filed for divorce.

Coger’s victims included Steve LeRose, the former chairman of the state Republican Party, former Pennsylvania state Rep. Frank Gigliotti and wealthy Pittsburgh businessman Eugene Connelly.

No sentencing date was set.

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