Man who claimed to have Shaquille O'Neal sex tape testifies about his alleged kidnapping
Gang members who allegedly kidnapped a music producer in early 2008 told the victim that the reason behind the kidnapping was an "issue" with Shaquille O'Neal and his business partner Mark Stevens, according to transcripts of the producer's testimony.
Robert Ross testified Monday in the preliminary hearing of seven Main Street Crip members accused of kidnapping, robbery and conspiracy in the February 2008 incident. Ross said he was kidnapped by armed gang members, robbed and beaten as they demanded a "videotape," two weeks after he told O'Neal and Stevens that he had a tape of the basketball star having sex with a woman other than his wife.
O'Neal and Stevens have denied involvement in statements to investigators. Neither has been charged in the case. Sheriff's records show that in 2009, investigators looked into the possibility that O'Neal was connected to the attack, after Ross alleged that the former Lakers center might have been involved.
In the testimony, a transcript of which was released Saturday, Ross said that at one point, his home security system had a recording of O'Neal having sex with a woman, but that it had been recorded over. When he later had a business dispute with O'Neal and Stevens over bringing singer Ray J to the pair's record label, he told them through a friend that he would give the tape to O'Neal's wife, in an attempt to pressure them to give him the money he thought he was owed, Ross testified.
"So did you really have a video of Shaq or had it already been recorded over?" Deputy Dist. Atty. Chun asked.
"It was over. It was gone," Ross responded.
Ross testified that O'Neal's name was brought up early on in the kidnapping by the second-in-command of the gang. Ross testified that James Harbin, a.k.a. "Wood," told him that the gang members had an AK-47, and ordered him to drive to the gang's leader's home in Southeast Los Angeles.
"And [Harbin] said he needed you to -- you needed to clear up some kind of issue?" Chun asked.
"Yes," Ross replied.
"With who?" the prosecutor asked.
"With Mark and Shaq," Ross said.
"And did defendant Harbin -- 'Wood' -- tell you what would happen to you if you didn't go?" Chun asked.
"He said, 'If we wanted to kill you, we can. You know how we get down,' " Ross said.
After he drove to the home of the gang's alleged shot-caller, Ladell Rowles, Ross said Rowles demanded the tape and cash while he and other gang members beat Ross.
Rowles "said Shaq and Mark know who the real boss is now and he asked me for the tape that I lied and said I had," Ross testified.
Ross' testimony was videotaped at the request of the prosecutor, who told the judge that given the nature of the gang, he feared for Ross' life. The proceedings were interrupted when Ross said someone in the audience appeared to mouth to him "You are dead." The judge ordered deputies to remove the man from the courtroom and question him.
Ross is expected to continue his testimony when the hearing resumes July 6.
-- Victoria Kim
Photo: Shaquille O'Neal with the Boston Celtics in October. Credit: Winslow Townson / Associated Press