John Travolta Trial: Bahamian Senator Caught Blackmailing Lawyer on Hidden Video, Say Prosecutors
NASSAU, Bahamas (CBS/AP) A hidden-camera videotape detailing negotiations between a lawyer for John Travolta and a former Bahamian lawmaker is now at the center of the extortion trial regarding the death of the actor's son.
The tape shows Pleasant Bridgewater, a former senator in the Bahamas, telling Travolta's lawyer Michael McDermott that an ambulance driver who treated Jett Travolta is asking at least $20 million not to release a private document to the media.
Paramedic Tarino Lightbourne and Bridgewater have pleaded not guilty to extortion charges at the trial, which began Sept. 21.
Lightbourne came to Travolta's vacation home on Grand Bahama island when the actor's 16-year-old son Jett suffered a seizure on Jan. 2. He later allegedly threatened to make public a release that Travolta signed to have Jett taken directly to the airport, even though the youth ultimately died at a local hospital and the document never came into play.
Bahamas police set up hidden cameras at a hotel room to capture Bridgewater's meeting Jan. 19 with Travolta attorney McDermott.
On the tape, Bridgewater places a phone call - apparently to Lightbourne - and says the lawyer is prepared to offer $250,000. She then tells the attorney that Lightbourne responded: "My mortgage is more than that."
"It's obvious that you can't handle this deal. I can't do it for $250,000. Just tell me when I can come and get my document from you," Bridgewater quotes Lightbourne as saying.
Prosecutors say the two defendants agreed to accept $10 million in installments over a four-year period before they were arrested.
On a second tape shown to jurors, recorded Jan. 20 at McDermott's hotel room, the lawyer says to Lightbourne, "You know what we're both doing here is a criminal offense?"
"Yes," replies Lightbourne, seated across the table.
The second video also shows the paramedic saying he intends to give the money to charity.
"I was poor all my life, you know? Me and my family, we were struggling all our life," Lightbourne says. "I wanted to do things for charity."
A defense attorney for Bridgewater, Murrio Ducille, sought to portray McDermott as a "devious and cunning" lawyer who intended to entrap his client. Ducille has accused McDermott of having "evil in his heart."
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