For more than a week, jurors in the John Travolta extortion trial have been hearing about secretly-taped videos allegedly showing the defendants negotiating a multimillion-dollar payout. On Monday, they finally got to see the footage.
“You know what were both doing here, okay,” Travolta’s lawyer Michael McDermott says in a meeting with one of the defendants, paramedic Tarino Lightbourn, as the other defendant, Lightbourn’s lawyer, Pleasant Bridgewater, listens in via speakerphone.
“Yes,” Lightbourn says, nodding his head.
“[It’s] a criminal offense,” McDermott finishes.
“Yes,” Lightbourn says again and nods.
“Okay,” McDermott says. “If we get caught, were both in trouble.”
‘Truck Full of Money’
The videotape will be used by the prosecution to try to prove Bridgewater and Lightbourn tried to extort money from Travolta in return for not making public a document the star signed declining to have his 16-year-old son Jett transported to a nearby hospital after he suffered a seizure earlier this year at the family’s vacation home in the Bahamas.
Travolta had previously testified that Jett was eventually taken to the hospital that morning, where he was pronounced dead.
Both Bridgewater and Lightbourn have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Jurors in the Nassau courtroom watched on a portable screen as Bridgewater first relays Lightbourn’s demand for money on Jan. 19 and then, in a second tape made the next day, Lightbourn himself meets with McDermott to hammer out a deal. McDermott laughs when he hears Lightbourn wants $25 million.
“That’s like a pickup truck full of money,” Travolta’s lawyer tells Bridgewater.
At one point in the discussion, Bridgewater gets on her cell phone and places a call to Lightbourn, who is at another location, and informs her client of McDermott’s offer of $250,000. The next thing she says is, “Pardon? That can’t cut it?”
McDermott presses his case. “That’s a lot of money,” he says. “I mean, 250 grand, come on. How long is it going to take him to save 250 grand working as an ambulance driver? Its going to take him five lifetimes.”
McDermott asks if he will take $1 million, partly in cash, partly in real estate. He specifically mentions Travoltas vacation home in Old Bahama Bay on Grand Bahama island.
Exasperated at Lightbourn’s unwillingness to make a deal, McDermott eventually threatens to destroy him: “[If] that ain’t going to do it for the guy, then to hell with him,” he says. “We will make sure that he’s a pariah in the Islands of the Bahamas, okay? We will make sure that he doesn’t go anywhere people dont know who he is. The name of Benedict Arnold will be, you know, pale in comparison with the name of Tarino Lightbourn.”
At no point on the videotape of the 44-minute meeting does McDermott tell Lightbourn that he is being tape and at no point does his lawyer, on the speakerphone, object.