Journalists report threats over Seagal Mob story
It sounds like something out of ”The Godfather,” with the horse’s head in the bed, or the seafood-borne message about sleeping with the fishes. But two reporters say they’ve received such movie-Mobster type threats since they started writing about the Mafia extortion case surrounding aging action hero Steven Seagal and his former producer, Julius Nasso. One of the reporters has even gone into hiding to protect herself.
Earlier this summer, Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch told L.A. police she had been threatened over a story she was writing about Nasso, who was arrested earlier this summer as part of a federal racketeering probe, on charges that he had extorted money from Seagal on the orders of the Gambino crime family. (Nasso has denied the charge, saying his arrest was Seagal’s retaliation for a $60 million breach-of-contract suit Nasso filed against Seagal in March for allegedly backing out of a deal to make four more movies.) In June, Busch told police that her car windshield had been smashed, and a dead fish bearing a note that said ”Stop” had been placed on the hood. Busch has since gone into hiding.
Meanwhile, the Times published a lengthy article about the Nasso-Seagal affair under another reporter’s byline. That the other Times reporter has not received any threats, and that Busch has continued to file stories in the Times, had raised doubts about Busch’s account of the threats. But the Times issued a statement Monday, saying, ”Our reporter was threatened. After discussions with law enforcement, we took the measures recommended to ensure the safety of our reporter.”
Now, lending more credence to Busch’s account is a claim by Ned Zeman, who was writing an article about Seagal and Nasso for Vanity Fair magazine, that he, too, was threatened. Vanity Fair senior articles editor Douglas Stumpf tells the New York Times that Zeman was threatened at gunpoint last week outside his Los Angeles home. As Zeman was driving home, Stumpf said, another car pulled up alongside his. Someone shined a light into Zeman’s car window, and a man in the other car pointed a gun at him and said ”Bang,” and ”Stop what you’re doing,” then drove off. Zeman reported the incident to the police, Stumpf said.
Has Zeman gone into hiding as well? He did not comment to the Times, nor did the police, but Stumpf told the paper that ”appropriate security measures have been taken.” Zeman’s article hits newsstands today.