According to a report by TheSmokingGun.com [click to read], documents used by the Los Angeles Times to substantiate claims made by unnamed sources that Sean “Diddy” Combs knew beforehand of the plot to assault Tupac Shakur in 1994 at the Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan were apparently prepared not by the F.B.I. as reported, but by James Sabatino, the alleged accomplice of James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond in the attack on Shakur.
In their report, The Smoking Gun claims that the Times have been “hoaxed” by Sabatino.
The Times piece, first published online last week [click to read], was written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chuck Philips. In his piece, Philips claimed that the ’94 assault on Shakur was orchestrated by Henchman, an artist manager, and Sabatino, a promoter and son of a captain in the Colombo crime family. Philips alleged that the attack on Tupac was intended to “punish” Shakur for refusing to sign to Bad Boy Records and employ Henchman as his manager, as well as Tupac’s insistence that he did not share the blame for the rape charges he was then on trial for with his co-defendant, Jacques “Haitian Jack” Agnant, a friend of Rosemond’s.
But most importantly, Philips alleged that the attack on Shakur was carried out to “curry favor with Combs.”
But according to The Smoking Gun, Philips appears to have been misinformed about Sabatino’s connection to Combs. According to the website’s report published online today, Sabatino is merely a “con man and accomplished document forger, an audacious swindler who has created a fantasy world in which he managed hip-hop luminaries, conducted business with Combs, Shakur, Busta Rhymes, and The Notorious B.I.G., and even served as Combs's trusted emissary to Death Row Records boss Marion "Suge" Knight during the outset of hostilities in the bloody East Coast-West Coast rap feud.”
The Smoking Gun report claims that Sabatino, now 31-years-old and an inmate at the Allenwood federal penitentiary, was nothing more than an overzealous fan of Hip Hop who attempted to, “to insinuate himself, after the fact, in a series of important hip-hop events, from Shakur's shooting to the murder of The Notorious B.I.G.”
The website’s report goes on to suggest that Sabatino may have personally constructed the alleged F.B.I. summary of an informant’s statements regarding the assault on Shakur that was included with the Times report to substantiate claims made by the three assailants of Tupac’s to Philips. The Smoking Gun claims that inspection of the document reveals “obvious similarities (type size, font, line spacing, individual character renderings)” to court filings created by Sabatino while he’s been housed at Allenwood.
The Smoking Gun report also includes intriguing insight into Sabatino’s criminal career and apparent fallacious claims of ties to the music business.
During HipHopDX’s interview of Chuck Philips last week [click to read], the author of the controversial Times report reminded that his primary source of information for his piece was not the now questionable F.B.I. report but his direct conversations with the alleged perpetrators of the attack on Shakur. “I didn’t base my story on that informant,” said Philips. “I based this story on my own reporting. We came up on those documents later after I was pretty much sure of what happened.”
A request made to Chuck Philips for comment specifically on The Smoking Gun report was not returned as of press time.
Update: James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemand and his attorney have both issued statements to HipHopDX regarding today’s piece on TheSmokingGun.com.
"I have always maintained over the past 14 years that I had no knowledge or involvement in the assault on Tupac in 1994," says Rosemand. "I have been targeted by L.A Times writer Chuck Phillips and dishonest government informants in an effort to ruin my name in an industry that I've devoted 16 years of my life to. In this peaceful time in Hip Hop, the L.A. Times' false accusations are as serious as when J. Edgar Hoover deliberately sent false hate letters to chapters of the Black Panther Party to create mistrust, violence and mayhem amongst them. Chuck Phillips irresponsibly did the same thing by creating a potentially violent climate in the Hip Hop community. Because the truth has come out, I am finally hopeful that I can move forward in my service to the music industry."
Rosemand’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, adds, "I wrote a letter late last year to Chuck Phillps and his editors at the L.A. Times in which I warned them that their information was wildly wrong about Mr. Rosemond's purported involvement in the 1994 shooting of Tupac; in my letter I warned them that if they persisted in publishing the story they would be sued for libel. Because the L.A. Times was more interested in selling newspapers than reporting the truth, James Rosemond has been tragically libeled. Any first year lawyer could see that the FBI 302 reports which formed the basis of the Times' story were fabricated – and yet the Times went ahead with the story anyway. I would suggest to Mr. Phillips and his editors that they immediately print an apology and take out their checkbooks – or brace themselves for an epic lawsuit.”
While the L.A. Times have not yet printed an apology, Editor Russ Stanton did announce today that the paper will launch an internal investigation into the authenticity of the apparently forged F.B.I. documents [click here to read]. "Questions have been raised about the authenticity of documents that we relied on for a story on the assault of Tupac Shakur in New York," Stanton said via statement. "We are taking this very seriously and have begun our own investigation."