Travolta Lawyer Says He Told Bahamas Defendants They Would Not Get Away With Alleged Extortion
First Published: October 2, 2009 10:24 AM EDT Credit: Getty Images
NASSAU, Bahamas -- A lawyer for John Travolta testified Thursday that he warned a former Bahamas senator she would not get away with an alleged scheme to extort $25 million from the movie star, and even wore a wire to secretly record their conversations.
Attorney Michael McDermott said the defendant, Pleasant Bridgewater, contacted him by telephone and demanded the money on behalf of a paramedic who had treated the actor’s 16-year-old son, Jett, following a seizure that led to his death.
The pair allegedly threatened to go to the media with a consent form that the actor signed to have his autistic son taken to an airport and flown to the U.S. for treatment. Travolta later changed his mind and Jett died at a local hospital Jan. 2.
Bridgewater and theparamedic, Tarino Lightbourne, have pleaded not guilty to extortion charges at the trial that began Sept. 21.
McDermott said he told Bridgewater, a former Bahamas senator who allegedly negotiated with the actor’s lawyers for the medic, during the Jan. 12 phone conversation that she was committing a crime.
“I then told her: ‘You are playing a very dangerous game, lady. I do not assent to your demands. I will go to the police,’” McDermott said.
Regardless of the threat of a police investigation, Bridgewater kept contacting him with Lightbourne’s demands, McDermott testified. He told jurors that Bridgewater told him the paramedic would accept $15 million.
“She indicated that this was the bottom line and she indicated that she was ready to receive the funds. I told her I would get back to her,” McDermott told the jury.
Wearing a wire as part of a sting he set up with Bahamian police, McDermott told her that Travolta would pay her $10 million in installments over a four-year period. The conversation was in his hotel room, where hidden video cameras had also been installed by investigators.
The pair finally agreed to this figure, McDermott testified. He said Bridgewater e-mailed him instructions on where to electronically transfer the money. The e-mail and the videotapes were entered into evidence.
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