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Two accused of trying to extort Everest University leader

Little Robertson, 21, left, and Nathaniel Graham, 20, both of Orlando, face extortion charges. Both men have lengthy criminal records.

Little Robertson, 21, left, and Nathaniel Graham, 20, both of Orlando, face extortion charges. Both men have lengthy criminal records.

TAMPA — Two men are accused of threatening to ruin the career of an Everest University campus president unless he paid them $15,000.

Nathaniel Graham, 20, and Little Robertson, 21, were arrested and charged Friday with extortion. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office was still investigating, and expected to make another arrest.

Graham and Robertson called and sent text messages to John Buck, 59, several times demanding the money "in exchange for a copy of a sex encounter," an arrest report shows.

Authorities declined to elaborate on what that meant. Buck did not return several telephone messages requesting comment.

Buck told detectives he knew Robertson and Graham through a friend and former student, but the two accused men are not Everest students, said Debbie Carter, a sheriff's spokeswoman.

Both Robertson and Graham have lengthy criminal records.

The new charge marks Robertson's 23rd arrest in Florida, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records.

In 2006, the Orange County Sheriff's Office arrested him on a charge of murder, a count downgraded to aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and later dismissed. Also that year, he was sentenced to three years in prison for battery on a law enforcement officer and possessing cocaine, according to the FDLE.

Graham was arrested 14 times in Florida, according to FDLE records. Adjudication was withheld on a charge of possessing a controlled substance without a prescription in 2006 and on a charge of obstruction without violence in 2009.

According to the Sheriff's Office, Robertson and Graham left their homes in Orlando and tried Friday to meet Buck at the Brandon campus of Everest University, 3924 Coconut Palm Drive.

He refused to see them and told security guards to remove them from campus.

In text messages, Robertson and Graham instructed Buck to tell the security officers that they were expected for a meeting. But after Hillsborough deputies also arrived, the two men left and said they would wait for Buck at his home, the affidavit says.

Robertson and Graham kept sending Buck text messages, the affidavit says, one of which threatened to "turn him in and ruin his career." They cursed at him in one message and said, "I tried to play nice."

Finally, with detectives watching, Buck met with Robertson and Graham. They were arrested and admitted to extortion, the affidavit said.

When they met with Buck, the two men did not have anything with them they could have used to extort him, said Carter, the sheriff's spokeswoman.

Citing the investigation, Carter would not say whether the men had access to a photo, video or other information that could be considered damaging. She said that was irrelevant.

"It doesn't matter if there's a picture or not," she said. "It's just that they tried to extort him."

Robertson was on felony probation and was being held in jail without bail Monday. Graham was released on $7,500 bail.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Ileana Morales can be reached at (813)226-3386 or imorales@sptimes.com. Reach Jodie Tillman at jtillman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3374.

Two accused of trying to extort Everest University leader 06/13/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 12:59pm]
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