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High court throws out Mass. extortion conviction

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June 26, 2013 11:15 AM EST | AP

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has thrown out the conviction of a Massachusetts financier convicted of extortion for sending threatening emails to a New York state official.

The high court on Wednesday sided with Giridhar Sekhar of Brookline, Mass., who appealed his conviction.

Sekhar wanted a New York State employee pension fund to invest in one of his company's funds. But a lawyer for the pension fund recommended against investment, so Sekhar sent him emails threatening to expose an alleged affair. The FBI traced the emails, and indicted Sekhar for attempted extortion.

The justices debated whether the indictment was correct because the only thing Sekhar was trying to influence was the lawyer's recommendation. Justice Antonin Scalia said "no" for the court in a unanimous judgment.

Scalia says that is "coercion, not extortion."