The LA Times's Chuck Phillips revisits his 2008 report on Jimmy Henchman and why he still believes he organized the '94 robbery of Tupac Shakur.
In 2008, former Los Angeles Times writer Chuck Phillips made headlines after using falsified documents in a report implicating Bad Boy associate Jimmy "Henchman" Rosemond in the 1994 attack on Tupac Shakur at the Quad Recording Studios in New York. Now, four years later, the Village Voice reached out to Phillips to provide his take on the story.
Phillips explained that through careful research and interviews, he discovered that it was Henchman who allegedly hired two men to beat and rob Shakur after Henchman asked Pac to join Biggie in the studio. He said that the leader of the attack, Dexter Isaac, had written him in 2007 detailing the event and even saying he still had Pac's gold chain.
"With guidance from street sources, I was able to determine who the assailants were and where they lived. I tracked them down in prison and interviewed them. Two of the men I suspected confirmed Tupac's suspicions about who had set him up in hand-written letters mailed to me in the summer of 2007. One even offered to sell me Tupac's stolen gold chain. According to the assailants, the man who ordered and financed Tupac's beating was a federal snitch and close associate of Sean Combs named James Rosemond, better known in Hip Hop circles as Jimmy Henchman."
He added, "Days before Henchman's arrest last summer, his former best friend, Dexter Isaac, the convict who led the attack at the Quad in 1994, confessed publicly that it was Henchman who hired him to rob and pistol-whip Tupac. Dexter, who has known Henchman since they were 14, was the lead source for my 2008 Quad story. He is one of a handful of disgruntled street soldiers who taught me how to navigate the treacherous world of Jimmy Henchman."
Phillips also addressed the issue of the fake FBI-302 documents that discredited his 2008 report on the shooting and ultimately got him fired from the Los Angeles Times. He said that that he believes Henchman got one of Phillips's informants James Sabatino and another friend of Henchman's to fabricate the federal documents in order to make his report look wholly inaccurate. He also added that he only used the documents to reaffirm what he had already learned from Isaac and other witnesses.
"The 302s bore graphic design elements we had all seen before on FBI reports. I had no reason to believe they were fakes...Colleagues suspected I had been set up. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but something that Henchman's attorney said to MTV that week made me wonder: 'Any first-year lawyer could see that the FBI-302 reports which formed the basis of the Times' story were fabricated.' First off, the alleged FBI documents did not form the basis of my article. My sources did. Secondly, Jeffrey Lichtman, the lawyer attacking the authenticity of the documents, had nearly three weeks to inspect the allegedly fake 302s before my story ran. I had faxed the 302s to him prior to publication seeking a response from Henchman or him to quote in the story. If it was so obvious that the documents were fabricated, did he not have a legal obligation to notify his client, and me, before the story came out?...I still have no proof that [James] Sabatino made the phony documents, but if he did, it appears now that he did not act alone. Last year, an old friend of Henchman's signed an affidavit (which Henchman circulated to the media) saying he had helped Sabatino fabricate the documents and file them in court."
"The only thing I apologized for was publishing purportedly fake documents. I never said that what I wrote was wrong. Someone may have tricked me, but the culprit did not undermine the thrust of what I reported. I would never have consented to publishing the 302s had they not supported what I had already learned in my own investigation. The substance of my article was accurate. Of this I was certain back then. I still am."
Check out the full report over at the Village Voice.