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FBI REPORTS IMPLICATING DIDDY IN TUPAC SHOOTING FALSE

 

Despite Los Angeles Times reporter Chuck Philips' claims that he always double- and triple-checks his anonymous sources when researching his articles, a report by the Smoking Gun Web site released on Wednesday (March 26) claims that the veteran reporter was duped by a now-incarcerated "audacious swindler" and "accomplished document forger" while researching his recent story allegedly tying Sean "Diddy" Combs and the Notorious B.I.G. to the 1994 shooting of Tupac Shakur.

 

 According to the report, the allegations that the shooting was carried out by associates of Combs', and that he knew of the plot beforehand, were largely based on false FBI reports cooked up by "an audacious swindler who has created a fantasy world in which he managed hip-hop luminaries, conducted business with Combs, Shakur, Busta Rhymes and the Notorious B.I.G., and even served as Combs' trusted emissary to Death Row Records boss Marion 'Suge' Knight during the outset of hostilities in the bloody East Coast-West Coast rap feud."

 

The man in question, according to the site, is James Sabatino, 31, who it claims has sought for years to wedge himself, after the fact, into a string of important hip-hop events, including Shakur's shooting and the murder of the Notorious B.I.G., though little evidence exists that he ever met or had contact with either man. Sabatino is described by the site as a "wildly impulsive, overweight white kid from Florida" who was little more than a rap fan and whose father once described him in a letter to a federal judge as "a disturbed young man who needed attention like a drug."

 

The Times article, which appeared online on March 17, was reportedly based on FBI records recently obtained by the paper and interviews with an unidentified number of unnamed sources about the November 1994 shooting of Shakur at Quad Studios in Times Square. Among the documents posted online with the six-months-in-the-making story was a PDF of two key FBI interview reports that were cited in the piece. A third purported FBI interview report was also reportedly included in court papers filed four months ago in U.S. District Court in Miami, where Sabatino is suing Combs for $16 million over an alleged decade-old business deal gone bad. The Smoking Gun reported that according to the complaint, prepared and filed personally by Sabatino from his cell at the Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex in Pennsylvania, Combs didn't pay Sabatino $175,000 for audio and video recordings the con allegedly made in 1994 of Biggie. (Sabatino is serving an 11-plus-year sentence for felony fraud and identity theft, according to the site.)

 

The Smoking Gun reported, however, that the FBI reports are nowhere to be found in the bureau's computerized Automated Case Support database, which allows investigators to search various bureau indices to determine whether particular individuals, groups or topics have been referred to in FBI reports or other bureau documents. The documents reportedly contain information provided to the FBI's New York office by an unnamed "confidential source." The Smoking Gun reported that Sabatino had distributed them himself and that they contain black redaction marks over the name of the agent or agents who prepared the reports, as well as the FBI case number.

 

Further examination of the documents by the Smoking Gun reportedly showed that — in addition to numerous spelling and grammatical errors, as well as deviation from standard language and acronyms used by the FBI — they were created on a typewriter and that, in some instances, it's clear that some of the letters were manually typed over existing letters. A former FBI supervisor told the Smoking Gun that the bureaus' agents stopped using typewriters 30 years ago. The purported FBI documents and court filings by Sabatino also reportedly have a number of similarities, including similar misspellings of words such as "makeing" and durring."

 

Since the Smoking Gun provided Philips and the paper with an account of their findings, the Times has launched an internal investigation to determine if the FBI documents cited in the story are real. "Questions have been raised about the authenticity of documents that we relied on for a story on the assault of Tupac Shakur in New York," the paper's editor, Russ Stanton, said in a statement. "We are taking this very seriously and have begun our own investigation."

 

A spokesperson for Diddy released a statement late Wednesday afternoon that reads: "Sean Combs is pleased that the Los Angeles Times is conducting its internal investigation. He has said all along that their story was a lie."

 

Another man implicated in Philips' story, Jimmy Rosemond, CEO of Czar Entertainment, also issued a statement on Wednesday. "I have always maintained over the past 14 years that I had no knowledge or involvement in the assault on Tupac in 1994," Rosemond wrote in the statement. "I have been targeted by L.A. Times writer Chuck Philips and dishonest government informants in an effort to ruin my name in an industry that I've devoted 16 years of my life to. In this peaceful time in Hip Hop, the L.A. Times' false accusations are as serious as when J. Edgar Hoover deliberately sent false hate letters to chapters of the Black Panther Party to create mistrust, violence and mayhem amongst them. Chuck Philips irresponsibly did the same thing by creating a potentially violent climate in the Hip Hop community. Because the truth has come out, I am finally hopeful that I can move forward in my service to the music industry."

 

Jeffrey Lichtman, Rosemond's attorney, said that he wrote a letter last year to Philips and his editors in which he warned them that their information on Rosemond's alleged involvement in the plot was "wildly" wrong.

 

"In my letter I warned them that if they persisted in publishing the story, they would be sued for libel," Lichtman said. "Because the L.A. Times was more interested in selling newspapers than reporting the truth, James Rosemond has been tragically libeled. Any first-year lawyer could see that the FBI 302 reports which formed the basis of the Times' story were fabricated — and yet the Times went ahead with the story anyway. I would suggest to Mr. Philips and his editors that they immediately print an apology and take out their checkbooks — or brace themselves for an epic lawsuit."

 

When asked to respond to the Smoking Gun's investigation, Sabatino wrote in a March 20 letter that "there is a lot of lies cirulating arround right now. But this is all going to backfire on Puff. I know him too well."

 

Among other claims, in his lawsuit against Combs, Sabatino said he did not have prior knowledge of the plot to ambush Shakur, but that he "does not contest that he was present at Quad Studios" on the night of the shooting, even though his name has never come up in any reports on the attack.

 

According to the Smoking Gun, the boast is a typical piece of self-mythologizing from Sabatino, who at one point reportedly claimed that as a teenager he was sent west by Combs to broker a peace deal between Bad Boy Records and Suge Knight's Death Row Records.

 

 

--MTV



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