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OLYMPIAN'S PARENTS VICTIMS OF EXTORTION?

OLYMPIAN'S PARENTS VICTIMS OF EXTORTION?

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Police are investigating the possible extortion of the parents of Olympian medalist Garrett Lowney. No charges have been filed yet.

Lowney won a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics in Greco-Roman wrestling.

His parents, Steve and Malia Lowney of Freedom, just outside Appleton, were nearly financially ruined by an extortion scheme involving forged loan documents, said their attorney, Rob Bellin, of Appleton.

Court documents show the Lowneys were sued by another couple in January 2006. The lawsuit was based on two promissory notes the Lowneys allegedly signed in November 1999 and February 2000. With interest, the debt amounted to $400,000.

The Lowneys never signed a promissory note, Bellin said.

"That is when the Lowneys decided to have an extra pair of eyes look at it and their daughter noticed the copyright at the bottom of the second page," he said.

The copyright, barely visible without a magnifying glass, was dated 2005. Bellin then determined the legal forms weren't made in 1999 and 2000.

He filed suit for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress on Tuesday against the couple, Christopher and Mary Therese Gilling, of Marion, which is about 140 miles north of Madison, and several others, including the Lowneys' sister-in-law, Tammy. She works as the Gillings' personal assistant, according to court documents.

Phone messages left by The Associated Press for the Gillings and Tammy Lowney were not immediately returned Thursday.

Appleton Police Sgt. Neal Rabas said he expects to make a referral to the district attorney next week after finishing his investigation. It would be up to the district attorney to file criminal charges.

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