Ohio couple pleads guilty in extortion involving former Bethany employee

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WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — An Ohio couple has pleaded guilty to extorting nearly $1 million from a woman who had embezzled the money from a West Virginia college.


U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld says 31-year-old Jason Kirkland Weese and 26-year-old Rachaelle Marie Weese of East Liverpool, Ohio, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Wheeling. Jason Weese also pleaded guilty to money laundering.


According to prosecutors, Bethany College cashier Shelly Lough of Wheeling exchanged sexually explicit messages and images with Jason Weese. Lough embezzled from the college to pay off Weese and his wife after they threatened to give the images and messages to her husband. The Weeses used a portion of the money to purchase several vehicles, including a 2013 Chevrolet Camaro and sport utility vehicles, and prescription pain medication.


Lough is serving two to 20 years after pleading guilty to embezzlement and falsifying accounts. She plead guilty to the charges in February. She worked at the small liberal arts college between July 2011 and May 2013.


Jason Weese faces up to 40 years and Rachaelle Weese up to 20 years. They are required to make full restitution to Bethany College.


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