Smoking Gun says LAT got hoaxed *

The Smoking Gun claims that the L.A. Times relied on FBI documents fabricated by con man James Sabatino for the paper's report last week that the 1994 shooting of Tupac Shakur was carried out by associates of Sean "Diddy" Combs and that he knew of the plot beforehand. The documents don't show up in FBI records and show obvious signs of fakery, the site says:

The Times appears to have been hoaxed by an imprisoned 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 con man, James Sabatino, 31, has long sought 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..

Via Romenesko

* Stanton reacts: The Times will investigate the claim, Editor Russ Stanton says in a story on the paper's website. Regarding the original piece, the story adds:

"This story is beyond ridiculous and is completely false," Combs said in a statement last week. "Neither Biggie [Notorious B.I.G.] nor I had any knowledge of any attack before, during or after it happened. It is a complete lie to suggest that there was any involvement by Biggie or myself. I am shocked that the Los Angeles Times would be so irresponsible as to publish such a baseless and completely untrue story."

Following the posting of the article on, Combs' attorney, Howard Weitzman, sent a letter to The Times calling for a retraction and demanding that the paper hold the story out of its print edition. Weitzman expressed particular concern about the assertion, based on anonymous sources, that Combs had been told in advance that Shakur would be attacked....The paper had not responded to the retraction demand as of Tuesday.

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