Bahamas Senator Held in Travolta Extortion Attempt
Bahamian politicians were squirming in their seats last night as news spread that police were holding one of their comrades in connection with the alleged attempted extortion of American celebrity John Travolta.
According to local news sources, PLP Senator Pleasant Bridgewater, an attorney and a former member of Parliament for Marco City, was reportedly being questioned by Grand Bahama police. She was expected to be kept overnight.
The Progressive Liberal Party, a political party with more than 30 years of leadership in The Bahamas, is often referred to a criminal organization. Most of the party leaders achieved their status and power in the Bahamian community from their involvement in the drug trade which flourished in the Bahama Islands during the 1980s.
Reports emerged during the week that the Travoltas - whose teenage son, Jett, died in Grand Bahama recently - were victims of an alleged extortion attempt. Full details of the investigation were not immediately made public, although American media were reporting that someone had attempted to extort as much as $20 million out of the Travoltas. Bahamian police would not confirm this.
Late last night, another Bahamian government official, Obie Wilchcombe, admitted that Bridgewater was in police custody. Mr Wilchcombe is the PLP Member of Parliament for West End and Bimini.
"I don't know any other details beyond that Pleasant is a colleague and a friend, obviously I'm concerned and worried," said Wilchcombe, who claims to also be a family friend of the Travoltas.
Because the matter is currently under police investigation, Mr Wilchcombe said that he could not give further details.
Harvey Tynes, QC, a prominent Grand Bahama attorney, was called in to assist Ms Bridgewater.
Reports of the alleged attempted extortion were first reported on the Internet by the Bahamas' largest website, BahamasB2B.com, and later picked up by US television. Fox, last night, reported that the person under arrest was a Bahamian "government official".
Fox's Bill 0'Reilly said last night that The Bahamas may be a beautiful place, but reminded his audience of the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Anna Nicole's son in The Bahamas and the subsequent legal circus that revolved around her activities there.
The matter involving the late American actress - the death of her son and her dealings with a Cabinet minister before her death - placed The Bahamas in a negative spotlight in the weeks and months before the 2007 general election.
Many believe that the mis-handling of the Anna Nicole situation, and the related corruption involving the PLP (governing party at the time) led to their downfall at the polls.
Not About Pictures
Celebrity news site TMZ says they have confirmed that the alleged extortion attempt does not involve pictures of Jett as he was dying, as had originally been reported. The usually accurate website says the extortion revolves around the circumstances surrounding Jett's death, but offers no other details. They also claim it was Travolta's reps who contacted cops and lodged the complaint.
Jett reportedly suffered a seizure and died at his family's vacation home at Old Bahama Bay, a luxury resort in Grand Bahama, on January 2.
Travolta family lawyers Mike Ossi and Howard Butler issued a statement to the media over the alleged attempted extortion reports.
"Regrettably in a time of such terrible grief, there are often a few individuals who attempt to make false claims in hopes of making millions of dollars," their statement reportedly said.
"We will never let that happen."
A local newspaper in The Bahamas reported last I night that police believe one of Bridgewater's clients may be tied to the matter.
By BahamasB2B.com Staff Writer