The mainstream media doesn't quite know how to handle a lawsuit in which a convicted felon has accused Shaquille O'Neal -- one of basketball's most beloved characters -- of attempting to using police connections to try to frame an enemy for possession of child porn.
The Associated Press and the Miami Herald won't touch it. The Sun-Sentinel is treating it gingerly.
But our position on public records is pretty well established. So we've uploaded the entire complaint below.
Miami resident Shawn Darling, who served federal prison time about a decade ago for running a fraud scheme involving social security numbers, worked as Shaq's IT guy starting in 2007.
According to Darling, that gig quickly took a turn for the weird as Shaq schemed his way through extramarital shenanigans. When Atlanta musician Alexis "Maryjane" Miller accused Shaq of stalking her and took out a restraining order against him, for example, Darling was charged with trying to retrieve all text messages and emails the superstar had sent her, according to the suit. Then, to be thorough, Shaq and his "house boy" threw the center's personal computer into the lake behind his mansion.
And when another mistress, Vanessa Lopez, threatened to tell Shaq's wife, Shaunie O'Neal, about the superstar's infidelity, he once again was desperate to find out what incriminating texts he had sent. According to Darling, Shaq even considered having his lawyer sue his own company in order to obtain a subpoena ordering the phone company to provide the old texts.
Oh, and then there was the time Shaq planted a GPS tracking system on Shaunie's car to secretly track her movements. And did we mention that, according to the suit, Shaq "carried on an improper affair" with Allison Samuels, senior writer at Newsweek and the Daily Beast?
"If the affair came to light," the complaint explains, "O'Neal knew his mother would be furious."
The woman who answered Samuels's phone hung up without identifying herself. A request for comment sent to the Daily Beast last week has not been answered.
But the real meat of the lawsuit comes when Shaq turns on his IT guy, who he discovered had been feeding information to Shaunie that helped her secure a "fair divorce settlement."
That's when Shaq, an honorary or reserve officer in several police departments including Miami Beach's, reached out to some friends-with-badges to frame Darling, according to the suit.
"Boy needs to be put in jail," he allegedly emailed to his agent, Mike Parris. "We have way too many law enforcement connections to let a criminal try to get over on mine o mine."
Darling claims that Shaq, with the help of former Miami Beach Police Chief Donald Delucca and Sgt. Jorge Alessandri, as well as a police detective in Arizona, attempted to plant child porn on his former IT guy's computer.
When Darling figured out about the scheme, he says, the plan was apparent abandoned.
He filed the lawsuit -- which Shaq's lawyer, Benjamine Reid, has declared "baseless and groundless" -- in July 2010. He recently filed an amended complaint, chock full of new details.
Miami Beach Police spokesman Juan Sanchez would not comment on the merits of the case, and tells Riptide there is no related internal investigation.
Originally, Darling filed thousands of pages of purported evidence, in the form of Shaq's emails and text messages, that he says back up his story. Reid argued that the information was stolen from his client, and a judge suppressed the evidence.
Consider this blog post a fishing expedition. If you have anything interesting concerning this story, email me.
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