Brian Cashman stalker could testify

NEW YORK -- A woman charged with extorting $6,000 from New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman may testify next week before a grand jury weighing the case, her lawyer said Wednesday as a judge declined to reduce the woman's $300,000 bond.

Louise Neathway, who denies allegations of threatening to damage Cashman's reputation to get him to pay her, held her head high during a brief Manhattan court appearance. Prosecutors set a March 15 date for Neathway to appear after her lawyer said she might want to testify before the grand jury.

Cashman spokesman Chris Giglio declined to comment on the case, including whether Cashman himself has appeared before the grand jury.

The British-born Neathway, who also goes by Louise Meanwell, deluged Cashman with calls and text messages, asked him to pay for a $15,000-plus medical procedure and threatened to contact the press and his family with damaging claims if he didn't comply, according to a court complaint. In response, he put $6,000 into two of her bank accounts Jan. 18 and tried again to extricate himself, but she instead demanded more money for operations, the complaint said.

Neathway has a history of similar arrests, including a 2008 New Jersey trespassing conviction for which she's still on probation and a 2010 Manhattan harassment case. Her lawyer, Rory Bellantoni, noted that the Manhattan case had been on track to be dismissed until her arrest last month.

The current allegations stem from "a consensual relationship that went bad," Bellantoni said outside court. He said Cashman turned a souring romance into a criminal case as he faced other personal problems.

Cashman's wife filed divorce papers in Connecticut a day after Neathway was charged.

"This is orchestrated by Mr. Cashman at a time when his wife is filing for divorce and he has a lot to lose," Bellantoni said.

Mary Cashman and her husband had been separated for a year, according to a person familiar with the family, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the matter.

Neathway and her mother, Caroline Meanwell, went to Yankees games with tickets Cashman provided, Bellantoni said. The mother said Wednesday that she'd first met Cashman four years ago when Neathway took her to Yankee Stadium for a visit on a day when there wasn't a game.

Bellantoni confirmed reports that Cashman wrote Neathway a reference letter on Yankees letterhead in July. In the note, Cashman said he'd worked with Neathway on several charitable causes and found her to be "a tireless and imaginative contributor." He said he'd known Neathway for six years, though the court complaint says they met around April of last year.

Bellatoni, himself a former judge in suburban Westchester County, urged a Manhattan judge Wednesday to reduce Neathway's bond. Bellantoni argued that the bail was unduly high for the charges against his client and noted that she has appeared for court dates in the past.

The judge declined, saying the legal circumstances haven't changed since the bond was set last month.

Neathway had initially been scheduled to find out Wednesday whether she'd been indicted. She's now due to hear that at a March 21 court date.