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Hines Ward

Man Pleads Guilty

In NFL Star Extortion Plot

4/25/2013 1:05 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0425_hines_ward_tmz
A 26-year-old Pennsylvania man just pled guilty to trying to extort former NFL star Hines Ward ... but TMZ has learned, he won't get any jail time.

Josh Van Auker pled guilty today to first degree misdemeanor attempted extortion ... after allegedly threatening to release evidence that the former Pittsburgh Steelers superstar paid women for sex. Van Auker allegedly demanded $15,000 for his silence.

He was arrested last October in a sting operation and charged with third degree felony attempted extortion ... but prosecutors agreed to reduce the charge.

Van Auker was placed on two years probation.

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