Bahamas medic charged in Travolta extortion plot

Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:17pm EST
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By John Marquis

NASSAU (Reuters) - A Bahamian paramedic pleaded not guilty and was held without bail on Monday on charges he conspired to extort $25 million from John Travolta after the actor's son died in the Bahamas this month.

Bahamian police said last week they were investigating a complaint by Travolta of an extortion plot against him. Neither police nor prosecutors have elaborated on the nature of the scheme.

Prosecutors allege the paramedic, Tarino Lightbourne, 47, tried to extort Travolta by means of threats. They also charged him with forgery.

Magistrate Carolita Bethel adjourned his hearing until Wednesday, when a former senator, Pleasant Bridgewater, is due in court to face charges of conspiracy to extort and abetment in connection with the case.

Bridgewater was granted bail of $40,000 during the weekend and vowed to fight what she called "untrue and unfair" charges.

"How these innocent actions can be so misconstrued, so perversely twisted to mean something other than it was, is a mystery," she said in a statement over the weekend.

Bridgewater resigned her Senate seat, saying she did not want to bring undue pressure on her party, the opposition Progressive Liberal Party.

Jett Travolta, 16, was found unconscious on January 2 at his family's home in the Old Bahama Bay resort on Grand Bahama Island, where John Travolta's family and friends had gathered for the New Year holiday.   Continued...

<p>Actor John Travolta arrives at the 80th annual Academy Awards, the Oscars, in Hollywood, February 24, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>