Seven members of a South Los Angeles street gang have been charged with kidnapping and other crimes after they allegedly abducted a man who claimed he had a sex tape of former Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal.
Ladell Rowles, who prosecutors said was the leader of the Main Street Mafia Crips gang, is accused in a criminal complaint filed in February of directing members to kidnap, beat and rob the victim. Details of the case became public in the last few days when a preliminary hearing got underway in L.A. court. Prosecutors stress that they have no evidence that a sex tape exists and said O’Neal is not involved in the case.
The victim was identified as Robert Ross. He was allegedly abducted by the gang members from inside a Bentley along the Sunset Strip on the night of the 2008 Grammy Awards. The suspects were attempting to retrieve a reputed tape showing O’Neal involved in sex with other women, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing in the case.
Rawles and his six co-defendants face charges that include kidnapping to commit another crime, second-degree robbery, assault with a firearm and conspiracy.
Ross testified he was that he was a former member of the Main Street gang who later became a music promoter. He said he became friends with O’Neal and tried to bring musical acts to the NBA star’s record label, prosecutors said.
Ross eventually got into a financial dispute with O’Neal’s recording firm over one of the acts and claimed he possessed the sex tape.
Ross took the witness stand on Monday in the first day of the preliminary hearing in which a Los Angeles Superior Court judge will determine if there is enough evidence to order that the defendants stand trial.
Rowles and his six co-defendants are charged with kidnapping, robbery, assault with a firearm and conspiracy.
The preliminary hearing has been recessed until July 6.