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Man Charged With Extortion Appears Before Franklin Jury - June 20, 1990 - Omaha World-Herald

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June 20, 1990 Man Charged With Extortion Appears Before Franklin Jury; [Sunrise Edition] Gabriella Stern. Omaha World - Herald. Omaha, Neb. pg. 23

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(Copyright 1990 Omaha World-Herald Company)

A 24-year-old man arrested earlier this year and charged with trying to extort money from an Omaha businessman appeared Tuesday before a Douglas County grand jury investigating allegations of sexual abuse of children and teen-agers by adults.

The allegations grew out a legislative committee's investigation of the 1988 failure of the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union.

Mark B. Coleman of Omaha left the grand jury offices about 4:30 p.m. with Tom Riley, the chief deputy public defender who is representing Coleman in the extortion case.

They declined to be interviewed as they left the offices on the fourth floor of the Douglas County Courthouse.

Coleman is awaiting trial on a charge of theft by extortion. He is accused of trying to blackmail businessman Alan Baer, 67, in mid-March.

Police said Baer received a letter March 15 at his apartment at the Twin Towers condominiums, 3000 Farnam St., instructing him to leave money - reportedly $30,000 - in an envelope at a spot on the sixth level of the Eppley Airfield parking garage the night of March 17.

Omaha police officers and FBI agents arrested Coleman at the parking garage that night. FBI agents interrogated Coleman for about three hours after the arrest, police officials said.

Coleman was charged with theft by extortion and was released after posting $200 bail.

Deputy Douglas County Attorney Robert Sigler said after the arrest that Coleman was charged under the portion of the Nebraska Criminal Code that defines extortion as "threatening to expose any secret tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule or to impair his credit or business repute." Theft by extortion of more than $1,000 is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

In an interview after his arrest, Coleman said he is a graduate of an Omaha modeling school and works part time as a model.

Baer is the former owner of J.L. Brandeis & Sons Inc., a department store chain that was based in Omaha. He sold the company to Younkers Inc. of Des Moines for $34 million in 1987.

He now owns Alan Baer and Associates, an umbrella company for several of his business interests.

Credit: World-Herald Staff Writer

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