Steven Seagal ex-aide says producer had him threatened.Prosecutors say that producer Julius Nasso menaced Seagal's former assistant in order to get him to testify against the action star

By Gary Susman
October 15, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Steven Seagal case keeps seeming more and more like a bad mobster movie. Already, two reporters who’ve covered the story of Seagal and his ex-producer, Julius Nasso, who was indicted this summer for allegedly extorting money from the actor on behalf of the Gambino crime family, have received cryptic death threats, like a smashed windshield and a dead fish. Now, prosecutors say, Nasso has also pressured an ex-aide of Seagal’s to testify as a character witness against the action star, going so far as to hire a private detective to threaten the assistant, who remains anonymous.

According to the New York Daily News, assistant U.S. attorneys Andrew Genser and Katya Jestin wrote in a letter to Brooklyn Federal Judge Frederic Block last week, alleging that Nasso and his brother Vincent hired a private eye who ”intimidated and harassed” the aide, showing up twice at his home, tailing his car, serving him with a fake subpoena, and threatening him by saying, ”This could get ugly.”

The Nassos, who were indicted this summer as part of a sting operation against the Gambinos, have denied the charges against them, with Julius Nasso accusing Seagal of staging the bust in order to get out of a $60 million lawsuit the producer filed against him in March for breach of contract, accusing the actor of backing out of a deal to make four more movies. Barry Levin, Vincent Nasso’s lawyer, tells the Daily News that the prosecutors’ latest charges are ”nonsense.” Levin says that the ex-aide is someone who approached the Nassos but ultimately declined to testify against Seagal because he was bound by a confidentiality agreement with the actor. ”This is a material witness who was present at the times the alleged extortion attempts took place,” Levin tells the Daily News.

Judging by the prosecutors’ letter, the ex-aide is the third person to be threatened since indictments were handed down in this case. Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch, who said she received the dead fish and had her windshield broken, went into hiding (though she has continued to file stories). And Vanity Fair writer Ned Zeman, who profiled Seagal and Julius Nasso in a recent issue of the magazine reported being threatened by a driver who pulled up alongside him, pointed a gun at him, and said, ”Bang,” and ”Stop what you’re doing.” One wonders whether Seagal’s next thriller, Nov. 15’s ”Half Past Dead,” will be half as suspenseful.

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