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LAPD memo criticizes man who says Shaquille O'Neal orchestrated his kidnapping

A detective says Robert Ross was an 'undesirable informant' who had a 'vendetta' against fellow gang members and adds that the accusations were attempted extortion.

July 14, 2011|By Victoria Kim and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times
  • Shaquille O'Neal announces his retirement from the NBA at his home in Windermere, Fla., last month. He denies any role in the kidnapping and assault alleged by Robert Ross.
Shaquille O'Neal announces his retirement from the NBA at his home… (John Raoux / Associated…)

The music producer and former gang member who accused Shaquille O'Neal of being behind an alleged kidnapping by a criminal street gang was classified as an "undesirable informant" by the LAPD in early 2010, according to internal police records reviewed by The Times.

Robert Ross, who has testified that he was kidnapped, assaulted and robbed by members of the Main Street Crips gang after he claimed to have a sex tape of the basketball star, worked as an informant for a federal task force that was targeting the gang around 2006, according to a Los Angeles Police Department memo.

Ross, however, appeared to have a "personal vendetta" against fellow gang members, causing concern for the task force, LAPD Det. Greg Kading wrote in the memo, dated January 2010. The memo called into question the purported kidnapping of Ross, for which seven Main Street members are facing charges in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

"The investigation became convoluted when Ross claimed that the entire incident had been orchestrated by basketball player Shaquille [O'Neal]," Kading wrote. "It became apparent that Ross was attempting to extort money from [O'Neal]."

Kading, who has since retired, was not involved in the investigation of Ross' alleged 2008 kidnapping.

Ross testified in preliminary hearings about the kidnapping case that gang members pistol-whipped and robbed him while mentioning O'Neal and his business partner, Mark Stevens. In statements to investigators, O'Neal and Stevens have denied involvement, and they have not been charged in the criminal case. During cross-examination, Ross, who has a lengthy criminal record, repeatedly denied under oath that he was an informant for any law enforcement agency.

In reports, sheriff's investigators have cited evidence independent of Ross' statement about the February 2008 incident, including wiretapped conversations between gang members referring to the incident. Additionally, phone records show a flurry of calls between Stevens and the alleged ringleader of the gang about the time that Ross says he was kidnapped and beaten.

Mark Overland, an attorney who appeared on behalf of Ross during the preliminary hearing, said Wednesday that the LAPD memo was full of unsubstantiated allegations. He said Ross was never a paid informant for any agency, and that he only provided information as a victim in an earlier shooting case involving the Main Street Crips.

"It's his view of things without any kind of proof or source," he said of Kading's statements. "There's nothing in that memo that provides any basis to believe it's the truth."

In an interview with The Times, Kading confirmed that Ross was a documented informant within the LAPD, but added that he did not believe Ross had ever been paid for his work with police.

Kading wrote that while Ross' alleged kidnapping was being investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Ross was a suspect in a homicide being investigated by the LAPD as well as the primary suspect in a multimillion-dollar identity theft and fraud scheme being investigated by the FBI and Sheriff's Department.

All the while, Ross boasted to his criminal associates that he "had a cop in his pocket," Kading wrote.

"Ross has proven to be a sophisticated career criminal who will attempt to align himself with a law enforcement agency to gain a sense of protection against those in the criminal community whom he has crossed," Kading wrote.

victoria.kim@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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