2009-01-21 07:55:21
MP Aware of Travolta Extortion Attempt in Bahamas
West End and Bimini MP Obie Wilchcombe told The Tribune that he is aware of at least one extortion attempt in connection with the death of actor John Travolta's son in Grand Bahama.

Meanwhile, lawyers for the Travolta family released a statement to a Florida newspaper, The Times-Union, that said the Travoltas will not tolerate any form of extortion.

Mr Wilchcombe, a former tourism minister and a friend of the Travolta family, said he was made aware of the incident early last week by a trusted source and immediately brought it to the attention of lawyers for the Travolta family.

"There was an incident that was brought to my attention that I subsequently alerted the Travolta's lawyers to (because) it is reprehensible that someone would think to benefit from a gentleman who's grieving," he said yesterday. "So I spoke with (Travolta's) lawyers (who) have subsequently spoken to individuals in Grand Bahama and that's as far as I know - I think the matter is being handled by respective lawyers."

The reported extortion attempt is said to involve an individual - reportedly a health care worker - trying to sell sensitive information or photos to international media agencies. Earlier in the week, it was reported that two individuals - one allegedly a politician - were involved in an extortion attempt of the Travolta family.

Mr Wilchcombe, who said he had not heard any claims of a politician being involved, said the incident puts a blight on the country and undermines how Grand Bahama rallied to support the Travolta family during their time of bereavement.

"I just think it's so terrible - our country was heralded for doing so well - and then for a single individual to seek to capitalise on the death of someone's son, that's despicable, criminal and unacceptable," he said, adding that he would welcome any legal action by the Travolta family against the individual in question.

Yesterday, The Times-Union reported that the actor's Jacksonville-based attorneys, Michael Ossi and Howard Butler, released a statement which read in part: "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. We will never let that happen".

Messages left for the Travolta's lawyer were not returned up to press time.

Police in Grand Bahama and New Providence said they had not received any official complaint regarding extortion attempts.

The Travolta family is said to be "coping" and "strengthening themselves", according to Mr Wilchcombe who hopes the family will continue their relationship with the Bahamas.

Their 16-year-old son, Jett, died on January 2 at the family's vacation home in Grand Bahama. He was found unconscious on the floor of a bathroom of his family's home. Although he suffered from Kawasaki Syndrome - an illness that leads to inflamed blood vessels in young children- a seizure was listed in the autopsy report as the cause of death.

Source: The Tribune
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