According to a federal lawsuit filed in Minnesota and unsealed Thursday, Berrian claims that he was blackmailed by a California couple for $30,000 after he inadvertently left his Blackberry at an ATM in Las Vegas in October, presumably during the Vikings' bye week the weekend of Oct. 2-3. On Jan. 4, the couple – Ron Jones and his girlfriend Clarice Lankford, allegedly contacted Berrian, demanding $30,000 or they would sell the Blackberry to the highest bidder.
According to the lawsuit, the couple was reportedly shopping the Blackberry to different media outlets that purchase damaging information on celebrities. Berrian claimed in the court filing that the Blackberry contained personal financial information, including his Social Security number and "personal photographs and video of Berrian and third parties not intended for public distribution."
In an ironic twist, an investigator hired by Berrian's attorneys tracked down Lankford, who works as an administrative assistant in Oakland for Foley & Mansfield, a law firm based in Minneapolis.
On Jan. 13, U.S. District Court Judge Joan Ericksen issued a temporary restraining order forbidding Jones or Lankford from selling the BlackBerry or using any of the information contained within it, as well as forbidding them from throwing it away or destroying it.
The BlackBerry was eventually returned to Berrian, but the extortion case is expected to continue. A hearing is schedule for the first week of February to see if the case will proceed to trial.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.