Pennsylvania police have arrested a man accused of attempting to extort $15,000 (£9,375) from former American football star Hines Ward after a sting operation on Thursday (18Oct12).

The retired sportsman's personal assistant, Raymond Burgess, contacted cops on Wednesday (16Oct12) after receiving a threatening text message from Joshua Van Auker.

The 26 year old accused the ex-Pittsburgh Steelers ace of soliciting prostitutes and demanded the money in exchange for him handing over "materials" he claimed would prove his allegations.

Authorities helped Burgess set up a meeting with Van Auker on Thursday (18Oct12) and arrested the suspect after the assistant handed over the cash.

Van Auker, who allegedly concocted the scheme after learning his girlfriend had reportedly been romantically involved with Hines in the past, is facing two felony charges of attempted extortion.

Ward, a former Dancing With the Stars champion, was unaware of the threats until Thursday and did not take part in the detectives' operation, but his spokesman Andrew Ree has branded the extortion incident "the act of a desperate individual trying to get money from a celebrity", according to the Associated Press.