Records in Mel Gibson inquiry show calls to TMZ, efforts by sheriff's officials to conceal actor’s anti-Semitic tirade
Authorities investigating media leaks surrounding Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic tirade during a 2006 drunk driving arrest found that two calls were made the same day to celebrity news website TMZ.com from the home of the sheriff’s deputy who arrested the actor, records reviewed by The Times show.
Despite the findings, Los Angeles County prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against Sheriff’s Deputy James Mee, concluding that they could not identify who made the brief calls from his home or who leaked portions of his report about Gibson’s arrest.
Mee, reached at home, said he was relieved by the district attorney's decision and insisted he had done nothing wrong. He declined to comment further.
Sheriff’s supervisors attempted to prevent details of Gibson’s inflammatory remarks from becoming public, according to a July 21 district attorney’s memo explaining why prosecutors declined to file charges. The memo said that a sheriff’s captain ordered that Mee rewrite his initial report to remove the actor’s anti-Semitic statements.
Capt. Thomas Martin ordered that Mee then write a supplemental report that would include the statements and be placed in a locked safe along with a video of Gibson’s booking and a bottle of tequila taken from the actor, the memo said.
“This procedure would prevent the press from getting a copy of the report,” the memo said.
Prosecutors noted, however, that the supplemental report was never placed in a safe. A sheriff’s spokesman initially described the arrest as having occurred “without incident.”
But TMZ later posted excerpts of Mee’s initial report on its website, detailing Gibson’s profane outbursts, his alleged attempt to escape custody and repeated threats against the arresting deputy. The report also detailed Gibson’s anti-Semitic remarks.
“The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” the actor was quoted as saying before asking the deputy, who is Jewish, “Are you a Jew?”
The news sparked outrage at the actor’s behavior as well as fierce criticism of the Sheriff’s Department, which was accused of giving Gibson special treatment.
The Sheriff’s Department launched a probe into who leaked Mee’s report. Investigators obtained a search warrant for the cellphone records of Harvey Levin, the founder of TMZ, as well as phone and bank records for Mee and his family, according to the memo.
The records showed no unusual payments to Mee, his wife or daughter, the memo said. But the phone records showed eight more calls from Levin to Mee’s home in the two days after the arrest, including a 10-minute call the next day and a 25-minute call the day after.
The memo said that investigators found no evidence that anyone used Mee’s home computer or fax machine to electronicially share the initial arrest report. Mee was one of three sheriff’s officials who had access to the report that was leaked, the memo said.
This week, Gibson’s drunk driving conviction was expunged after completing the terms of his probation.
-- Jack Leonard and Richard Winton
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