Oct 022009
 October 2, 2009  Posted by  Court, Misc, U.S.

Both John Travolta and David Letterman have been the targets of extortion attempts, and both men have gone public and testified against the alleged extortionists.

In Travolta’s case, Liz McNeil and Siobhan Morrissey of PEOPLE magazine explain that the plot began with the tragedy of Travolta’s son’s death in their Bahaman home. Tarino Lightbourn, an Emergency Services Tech II with the Rand Memorial Hospital ambulance, allegedly attempted to extort $25 million to sell him the Refusal of Transport/Treatment document that Travolta had signed.

According to McDermott [Travolta’s lawyer], [former Bahamian Senator Pleasant] Bridgewater [Lightbourn’s attorney and alleged intermediary] said the document was important because, “Mr. Travolta either intentionally killed his child or was negligent and that this document is evidence that Mr. Travolta tried to flee the jurisdiction with his child’s dead body.”

Lightbourn and Briidgewater have both been charged with extortion and are currently on trial. Travolta has testified in the case.

In Letterman’s case, Lisa de Moraes of The Washington Post reports that Letterman revealed the extortion attempt on his show last night and said that it was based on his having had sexual relationships with “Late Show” staffers.

CBS issued a statement late Thursday night acknowledging that the man who attempted to extort the money was an employee of the CBS newsmagazine “48 Hours” who was subsequently arrested Thursday on charges of attempted grand larceny in the first degree.

Over on Huffington Post, David Brauder reports that the employee’s identity has leaked:

A person with knowledge of the investigation said the suspect is Robert J. Halderman. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because authorities have not released the suspect’s name.

A “48 Hours” producer named Joe Halderman was part of a team nominated for an Emmy for outstanding continuing coverage of a news story in a news magazine in 2008. Two numbers listed for Halderman were disconnected, and a message left at a third number was not immediately returned Thursday.

Letterman testified before the grand jury hearing the case.

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