Arizona man sentenced to prison over false allegations of sexual assault against Georgia Tech coach

Man charged and the Georgia Tech coach had once been friends.


An Arizona man was sentenced to almost three years in prison for falsely accusing the Georgia Tech men's basketball coach of sexual assault and extortion.  

Ronald Bell, 57, was sentenced on Thursday to two years and nine months for conspiring to extort money from the school. He conspired with his co-defendant, Jennifer Pendley, as well as a security guard from Georgia Tech (GT) to claim the GT basketball coach, Josh Pastner, engaged in sexual assault. They had once been friends. 

Bell recruited a security guard to make the fabricated allegation that the guard witnessed the GT basketball coach, Josh Pastner, commit sexual assault. The guard would have been paid a portion of $20 million as well as a new Jeep. 

Pastner has previously stated publicly that Bell was "part of our family and part of our team." Pictures of him can be seen with Bell when the two of them were on good terms. 

Bell (left) giving Pastner (right) a shirt

Pastner settled the first lawsuit against Bell and Pendley for blackmail and defamation in a different case back in 2018. At the time, they were "falsely alleging that Josh was aware of NCAA violations and in violation of NCAA rules” on his basketball team.  

After that, the couple moved to accuse Pastner of sexual assault in the now-determined-to-be phony case.  

"Ronald Bell tried to extort Georgia Tech and ruin the reputation of its basketball coach," said US Attorney Ryan Buchanan. "Bell attempted to exploit the mission of our office, and law enforcement partners, to combat sexual assault through a brazen effort to enrich himself at the expense of Georgia Tech and a member of its staff." 

Bell had communicated to GT representatives that things would "get very ugly" if the school did not report the fabricated scheme. Bell texted and said he had "tried to resolve this without damaging GT’s reputation." 

The school refused to pay Bell. Pendley then filed a lawsuit claiming sexual battery and sexual assault, with the security guard serving as a witness. Later, the guard admitted his statement in the case was false and that Bell had conspired with him to make up the scenario. 

Special Agent Keri Farley, who oversees FBI Atlanta, said, “This sentence proves that the FBI will not tolerate false allegations and will do everything in our power to seek the truth and hold individuals who commit these type of crimes accountable for their selfish actions.” 

Pastner said in relation to the allegations, "My family and I are victims of fraud and extortion and the extent to which these individuals have gone to harm us is truly unfathomable." 

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