U.S. Court of Appeals Upholds Convictions for Attempting to Extort General Counsel to NYS Comptroller
ALBANY, NY—In an opinion issued today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed Giridhar C. Sekhar’s convictions related to his attempted blackmail of the New York State Comptroller’s former General Counsel, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Special-Agent-in-Charge Clifford C. Holly of the Albany Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sekhar is serving fifteen months in prison as required by the sentence imposed on October 4, 2011 by the Honorable Thomas J. McAvoy, Senior United States District Judge. On April 18, 2011, a jury convicted Sekhar of one count of attempted extortion and five counts of interstate transmission of an extortionate threat.1
The convictions arose from Sekhar’s transmission of extortionate electronic mail messages to the former General Counsel for the New York State Comptroller between November 17, 2009 and December 1, 2009. At the time, Sekhar was a managing partner of the venture capital and private equity company FA Technology Ventures Corporation (“FA Technology”).
In the messages, Sekhar threatened to reveal an alleged extramarital affair unless the General Counsel recommended that the New York State Comptroller, the sole trustee and manager of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, commit to a proposed $35 million investment of retirement fund assets in funds managed by FA Technology (the “commitment”). If FA Technology had received the proposed $35 million investment, then it would have received more than $7 million in fees.
Sekhar sent the messages after learning that the commitment would not be approved and that the General Counsel had recommended that it not be approved. By threatening to disclose the alleged extramarital affair, Sekhar attempted to obtain, with the General Counsel’s consent, the General Counsel’s recommendation to approve the commitment.
The case was originated by the Albany County District Attorney’s Office with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Albany Office, and the Brookline, Massachusetts Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth C. Coombe of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
1He was acquitted of one count of Interstate Transmission of an Extortionate Threat.