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Probe widens in alleged extortion attempt targeting Mel Gibson; attorneys to be interviewed

September 29, 2010 |  8:03 am

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef0134858ae1c5970c-600wi Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators are widening their investigation into whether Mel Gibson was the target of an extortion plot.

Sheriff's officials have spent weeks probing suggestions that someone close to Mel Gibson's ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, Oksana Grigorieva, was attempting to extort money from Gibson. No suspect has been formally named, but detectives have interviewed people involved in the couple's messy separation.

Now detectives  plan to interview two lawyers who represented Grigorieva. Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said that one of the attorneys is Eric George, who formerly represented  Grigorieva in her child custody case with Gibson. George did not immediately return a message on his voice mail seeking comment. The other attorney was not named.

"Scheduling has been difficult," Whitmore said. "The interviews should take place in the next couple of weeks. "

Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators are still several weeks away from presenting a case to prosecutors in the extortion case, he said. Investigators continue to review evidence,  including text messages and e-mails, and review  interviews with Gibson and others.

"We are reviewing, researching and analyzing all the evidence relating to the allegations," Whitmore said.

The Sheriff's Department has completed an investigation into whether the actor hit Grigorieva and has turned over its findings to county prosecutors. Soon after that, sheriff's investigators began investigating claims that Grigorieva or someone close to her was attempting to extort money from Gibson.

Los Angeles County district attorney's office previously indicated its intention to consider both the domestic violence and extortion cases related to Gibson and Grigorieva at the same time.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Mel Gibson. Credit: Los Angeles Times