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Dark Side Of Puffy Trial

Friends and neighbors sort through the reckage of a trailer home belonging to Breck and Becky Grabast Sunday, May 6, 2006 in Osborne, Kan..
AP /Hays Daily News, Fred Hunt
Sean "Puffy" Combs and the man he argued with before a 1999 nightclub shooting allegedly targeted each other for death, a newly unsealed court transcript shows.

Combs, acquitted last week after a gun possession and bribery trial, was accused by Matthew "Scar" Allen of setting him up to be killed to keep him from testifying about the club shooting, in which three people were wounded, the transcript shows.

At the same time, Combs' lawyer Benjamin Brafman said, the rap mogul got a death threat by telephone at his office. He said the caller, found by Brafman's investigator, "gave us detailed information concerning a contract on Mr. Combs' life."

Brafman said court officers also spotted a man with a walkie-talkie who was heard telling someone about Combs' car, numbers of security agents, times they arrived and the courthouse entrances and exits they used.

Brafman also said the caller his investigator spoke to identified the man with the walkie-talkie at the courthouse as an acquaintance of Allen's.

The dueling murder plots, as Brafman termed them, were discussed out of the jury's presence during Combs' trial on March 14. The subject arose when the prosecutor complained about possible witness tampering.

It was Combs' confrontation with Allen in Club New York on Dec. 27, 1999, that led to the shooting that landed the rapper in court. Combs was leaving the club with then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez when one of his crew bumped Allen.

After a brief exchange of insults, including someone throwing a wad of money in Combs' face, shots were fired and three people were wounded.

Combs, 31, and his bodyguard, Anthony "Wolf" Jones, 35, were arrested 11 blocks away after police found a gun in their Lincoln Navigator. Combs' rap protege Jamaal "Shyne" Barrow, 21, was arrested outside the club.

Combs and Jones were acquitted of gun possession and a charge that they tried to bribe Combs' driver to claim ownership of the gun in the car.

Barrow was convicted of first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and gun possession. He faces up to 25 years in prison when State Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon sentences him on April 16.

Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos said Allen told him that he believed Combs was trying to bribe him to keep him quiet but that he learned from an employee of the rap mogul that Combs was planning to kill him.

"He (Allen) told me that this man told him, Mr. Allen, that Mr. Combs had, in fact, put out a contract on Mr. Allen's life for $50,000," Bogdanos said. "He was even told how it would happen."

Bogdanos continued: "He (Allen) was told that he would be contacted again and told that he would be paid in order not to testify. He was told that he would be paid $250,000 and that a meeting would be arranged. ... He was told by this individual he (Allen) would be killed at that meeting."

The prosecutor said Allen then told him he would refuse to testify at Combs' tria because, while he might be able to take care of himself, he feared for the safety of his mother and the rest of his family.

Allen, jailed on unrelated charges, was not called to testify.

Brafman denied Thursday that Combs schemed to kill Allen.

"Anyone who suggests that Mr. Combs threatened anyone is simply making stuff up," he said. "The allegations are patently false."

He continued: "(Allen) didn't testify because he could negotiate a satisfactory agreement concerning his own criminal charges."

Brafman refused to comment on any alleged plot to kill Combs.

After the sidebar conference, State Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon sealed the record until after the verdict at Brafman's request.

By SAMUEL MAULL
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