Shakur also became acquainted with Sabatino, a 19-year-old Italian American who co-promoted rap conventions with Rosemond. Sabatino had Brooklyn roots of a different kind: His father was a captain in the Colombo crime family, according to federal authorities.
Like Rosemond and Agnant, Sabatino wanted to ride Combs' rising star, and he too leaned on Shakur to leave Interscope Records and sign with Bad Boy.
For The Record
Times retracts Shakur story
Los Angeles Times Monday, April 07, 2008 Home Edition Calendar Part E Page 1 Calendar Desk 15 inches; 620 words Type of Material: Correction
An article and related materials published on the Los Angeles Times website on March 17 have been removed from the site because they relied heavily on information that The Times no longer believes to be credible.
The article, titled "An Attack on Tupac Shakur Launched a Hip-Hop War" and written by Times staff writer Chuck Philips, purported to relate "new" information about a 1994 assault on rap star Tupac Shakur, including a description of events contained in FBI reports.
The Times has since concluded that the FBI reports were fabricated and that some of the other sources relied on -- including the person Philips previously believed to be the "confidential source" cited in the FBI reports -- do not support major elements of the story.Consequently, The Times is retracting the March 17 Web publications as well as a shorter version of the article that appeared on Page E1 in the March 19 Calendar section of the newspaper. Statements that Philips made in two online chats, on March 18 and 25, and on The Times' Soundboard blog on March 21 also are being retracted.
Among other things, the March 17 article and related Times publications reported that newly discovered information supported Shakur's claims that associates of music executive Sean "Diddy" Combs orchestrated an attack in which Shakur was injured at the Quad Recording Studios in New York on Nov. 30, 1994.
The information, which came from the purported FBI reports and other sources, said that James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond, a talent manager; Jacques "Haitian Jack" Agnant, a figure on the New York hip-hop scene; and James Sabatino, purportedly one of Combs' associates, arranged the assault on Shakur because they were angry that he had rejected overtures to sign with Combs' Bad Boy Records.
The Times now believes that Sabatino fabricated the FBI reports and concocted his role in the assault as well as his supposed relationships with Combs, Rosemond and Agnant.
Consequently, The Times specifically retracts all statements in the article, and in its related publications, that state or suggest in any way that Rosemond, Agnant and Sabatino orchestrated or played any role in the assault on Shakur or that they lured him into an ambush at the Quad studios.
To the extent these publications could be interpreted as creating the impression that Combs was involved in arranging the attack, The Times wishes to correct that misimpression, which was neither stated in the article nor intended.
The Times also reported that Sabatino told Combs in advance that Shakur was going to be attacked. The Times now believes that Sabatino had no involvement in the attack and that he never spoke to Combs about it. Any statements or implications suggesting that Combs was given advance knowled
Shakur rejected these overtures. Members of Combs' circle saw this as an act of disrespect.
Shakur's behavior in New York grew increasingly provocative. He insulted music executives and gangsters alike. He brandished weapons in public. Even friends thought he was out of control.
In November 1993, Shakur, Agnant and two other men were arrested on charges of gang-raping a 19-year-old fan at the Parker Meridien Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
A year later, Shakur was back in New York to stand trial on the charges. By then, his former pals were laying plans to exact revenge, according to the FBI informant and the other sources.
Carefully laid plans
On Nov. 29, 1994, two dozen Bad Boy executives and associates gathered on the 10th floor of the Quad to record songs for a debut album by Junior M.A.F.I.A. On hand, among others, were Combs, Notorious B.I.G., Rosemond, Agnant and Sabatino.
Rosemond had booked an adjacent studio to produce a recording by rapper Little Shawn, whose career he managed. This was the session at which Shakur was to be paid $7,000 for a guest vocal.
In fact, Rosemond never intended to record the session, according to the FBI informant and the other sources.
He had enlisted a trio of his friends from Brooklyn to ambush Shakur in the lobby of the Quad, the sources said. Agnant and Sabatino helped plan the attack, working out the timing, arranging for the three assailants to be driven to the studio and mapping out their escape route, according to the informant and the other sources.
Shakur's friend Randy "Stretch" Walker was in on the plan, the sources said. In the hours before the attack, Shakur and Rosemond argued several times over the phone about how much Shakur would be paid. After the dispute was settled, Walker notified Agnant when Shakur was en route to the studio, the sources said.
Around 11:45 p.m., the lobby security guard was called away from his post, and the three assailants, dressed in army fatigues, moved into position. One sat in the guard's chair. The two others waited outside.
Just after midnight, Shakur walked in with Walker and his manager, Fred Moore. As the rapper and his crew moved toward the elevator, the assailants confronted them and demanded their jewelry. When Shakur refused, the attackers began to pistol-whip him.
The rapper surprised them by drawing his own weapon. Gunfire erupted, and Shakur accidentally shot himself in the groin. The assailants shot Shakur four times. He sustained injuries to the head, hand and thigh. The men beat and kicked Shakur as he lay bleeding on the ground. Then, ripping a $40,000 gold medallion and chain from his neck, they escaped into the night.
Moore, who was also wounded, gave chase and collapsed in the street.
Shakur managed to limp into the elevator and push the button for the 10th floor. When the elevator doors opened, the rapper surveyed the assembled Bad Boy crowd.
In a 2005 interview with Vibe magazine, in which he denied any role in the attack, Rosemond described how the injured Shakur accused him of being in on the ambush.
Rosemond quoted the rapper as asking: "Why you let them know I'm coming here? You was the only [one] who knew, man. Why?"
In a bizarre twist, Shakur, bleeding badly, sat on a couch and rolled a joint, witnesses said. Police and paramedics, alerted by a 911 call, showed up minutes later. Shakur was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center.
The FBI informant said Agnant "seemed mad that Shakur was still alive and kept calling" the hospital "to check on Shakur's status."
Efforts to reach Agnant for comment were unsuccessful.
The very next day -- Dec. 1, 1994 -- a heavily bandaged Shakur rolled into court in a wheelchair to hear the jury's verdict in the Parker Meridien case. He was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and later sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison. Shakur served part of the sentence before being freed on bond while he appealed the verdict. (Agnant had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and avoided prison.)
The three men identified by the sources as Shakur's assailants are all serving time in federal penitentiaries for unrelated crimes. The Times is withholding their names because they have not been charged.
In correspondence with The Times, one of the men said that Rosemond orchestrated the ambush. Another was cryptic. He wrote that the statute of limitations for the assault had expired, and he offered to produce, for an unspecified fee, the medallion stolen from Shakur.
The third inmate denied involvement in the attack.
'Bad Boy's behind this'