MIAMI (AP) _ Papers purporting to be FBI reports linking associates of music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs to a 1994 attack on rapper Tupac Shakur appear to be fakes, the agency said Friday. The documents had been cited in recent Los Angeles Times and Associated Press stories.
James Sabatino, a convicted con man who is serving a federal prison sentence for fraud, filed the documents last fall in Miami federal court as part of a $19 million lawsuit against Combs, claiming Combs never paid him for arranging a recording and video session by the late Notorious B.I.G.
The documents purported to be an FBI agent's reports on interviews conducted in 2002 of confidential informants linking Sabatino and associates of Combs to the 1994 shooting of Shakur in New York City. The shooting triggered a feud between East and West Coast rappers that later led to the killings of Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. None of the shootings have been solved.
"We have no record of these documents in our system," Agent Stephen Kodak said. "They don't appear to be legitimate." He said no decision has been made on whether to investigate the documents and their origin.
The Times used the documents as a basis for a story earlier this month linking Combs' associates to the first attack on Shakur. The newspaper apologized Wednesday for the story. The AP quoted from the documents when they were filed. It issued a corrective Friday.
The Web site The Smoking Gun first reported this week that the documents appeared to be fakes. The reports were written on a typewriter, not a computer, and contained misspellings identical to ones Sabatino made in other documents, its report pointed out.
Sabatino, 31, has a long history of falsely claiming to be a major player in the rap industry and perpetrating other frauds. He is currently serving an 11-year sentence for identity theft and fraud at a federal prison in Pennsylvania. His father once said in a letter to a judge that his son "is a disturbed young man who needed attention like a drug."
Howard L. Weitzman, Combs' attorney, said his client and Sabatino never had a business relationship.
"It should be clear that Mr. Sabatino has a vivid imagination, to say the least, and his credibility quotient is zero," Weitzman said in an e-mail.
Sabatino's lawsuit against Combs remains pending. No trial date has been set. Calls to the attorney he claims is representing him have not been returned.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.