William Stanley sought to extort GE in Texas by threatening to post "fraudulent comments and creating negative reviews online," if he was not paid. The story is deeper than that, though - Stanley repeated this tactic across 40 - 50 victims.
Apparently he was working for GE doing SEO for them. In the process, he created some "fake" websites that "had the ability to damage GE's reputation by associating GE with a scam." I wonder what that means, exactly? Anyway, when GE found out they tried to terminate his contract. In response, Stanley said he would need more money to terminate the contract. That's also when he started threatening to make negative reviews and comments.
The legal document says that "a legitimate SEO business engages in standard practices such as optimizing the underlying HTML code on a website for certain keywords that a search engine indexer...would associate with a given search query..." but "an illegitimate SEO business engages in deceptive tactics to affect search engine rankings and the volume of results. Such deceptive tactics include creating fraudulent reviews (good or bad), creating fictitious websites, or hiding text on websites."