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Shaquille O'Neal questioned in beating, kidnapping of man by gang members

O'Neal and his business partner denied involvement in the 2008 attack on a man who said he had a sex tape of the former Laker. The victim told authorities that he believed O'Neal was behind the attack.

June 16, 2011|By Victoria Kim and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times

Even if there had been a sex tape, he told investigators, he wouldn't have cared if it was made public because he and his wife were getting a divorce. He told Stevens to pass that message to Ross, the report states.

He also said he didn't believe Stevens would have been involved in any kidnapping scheme, according to the report.

O'Neal said he had met several Main Street Crip gang members during toy donation events in South Los Angeles but did not have a personal relationship with them.

O'Neal told authorities he had severed ties with Ross about a year before the interview because of Ross' criminal troubles, believing that it would be bad for his image.

Stevens, who was interviewed around the same time as O'Neal, told investigators he found out about Ross' assault three or four days after the fact from Ross' brother and another friend. He said he had a "business-level" relationship with Rowles, helping him organize charity events.

At the time of the attack on Ross, the gang members had already been under surveillance as part of an ongoing federal investigation into the Main Street Crips gang. In one wiretapped phone conversation six months after the attack, Rowles told Stevens that Ross had "gone sour," and that the police had contacted him, according to the report.

Investigators also obtained phone records documenting "a flurry of calls from Mark Stevens to Ladell Rowles" and from Rowles to other gang members "at or around the time of the kidnapping," the sheriff's report states.

Two attorneys representing defendants in the case Wednesday questioned Ross' credibility, pointing to his criminal record.

Attorney Vincent J. Oliver said the prosecution's case rests solely on Ross' account. He said the fact that Ross was lying about having the sex tape "casts more doubt" on his testimony. Rowles' attorney, Ronald J. Higgins, disputed that his client was the shot-caller in the gang, and said he was a respected member of the community.

Ross is expected to resume his testimony when the preliminary hearing continues in July.

victoria.kim@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

Los Angeles Times staff writer Robert Faturechi contributed to this report.

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