Gang members accused of kidnapping man who claimed to have Shaquille O'Neal sex tape
Seven members of a South Los Angeles street gang have been charged with kidnapping and other crimes after they allegedly abducted a man who claimed he had a sex tape of former Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal.
Ladell Rowles, who prosecutors said was the leader of the Main Street Mafia Crips gang, is accused in a criminal complaint filed in February of directing members to kidnap, beat and rob the victim. Details of the case became public in the last few days when a preliminary hearing got underway in L.A. court. Prosecutors stress that they have no evidence that a sex tape exists and said O'Neal is not involved in the case.
The victim was identified as Robert Ross. He was allegedly abducted by the gang members from inside a Bentley along the Sunset Strip on the night of the 2008 Grammy Awards. The suspects were attempting to retrieve a reputed tape showing O'Neal involved in sex with other women, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing in the case.
Rawles and his six co-defendants face charges that include kidnapping to commit another crime, second-degree robbery, assault with a firearm and conspiracy.
Ross testified he was that he was a former member of the Main Street gang who later became a music promoter. He said he became friends with O'Neal and tried to bring musical acts to the NBA star's record label, prosecutors said.
Ross eventually got into a financial dispute with O'Neal's recording firm over one of the acts and claimed he possessed the sex tape.
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Shaquille O'Neal in 2004. Credit: Los Angeles Times