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Man Charged With Extortion

By Andrew L. Wright

A Newton resident was arraigned Wednesday on charges that he threatened to kill a Harvard employee unless he received $500.

Kaven Afrasiabi, 37, has been charged with two counts of extortion and two counts of making threats, John Towle of the Middlesex County District attorney's office said yesterday.

Afrasiabi is being held without bail at Cambridge City Jail pending a hearing today at 2 p.m. in Cambridge 3rd District Court to determine whether or not he should be considered dangerous.

Harvard Police Lt. John F. Rooney said that Afrasiabia's arrest was the culmination of a three-month investigation by University detectives.

"This was a real cloak and dagger thing," Rooney said. "He threatened to harm the victim if he didn't get cash. There was a serious threat to kill." Police declined to identify the victim or release any specifics concerning in what capacity the victim was employed by Harvard.

Rooney said Afrasiabia began making threats against the Harvard employee in early November. "The victim was being extorted, and it involved money and physical harm to the victim," he said.

Harvard Detective Richard Mederos led the investigation into the extortion and threat charges. Rooney said the probe took several months because the suspect maintained "numerous aliases, numerous addresses and a criminal background of subverting police."

After obtaining a warrant for the suspect, Harvard detectives arrested Afrasiabia at his home in Newton at 5 a.m. on Wednesday.

Police were led to the defendant after his alleged victim picked him out of a photo array, Rooney said.

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