The writer and editor behind a Los Angeles Times article implicating associates of rap mogul Sean ”Diddy” Combs in the 1994 shooting of Tupac Shakur apologized on Wednesday (March 26) for relying on what appear to be forged documents for the story. ”In relying on documents that I now believe were fake, I failed to do my job,” reporter Chuck Philips said in a statement on Wednesday. ”I’m sorry.” Deputy Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin said: ”We should not have let ourselves be fooled. That we were is as much my fault as Chuck’s. I deeply regret that we let our readers down.” The apologies come on the heels of an announcement by Los Angeles Times Editor Russ Stanton that he is launching an internal investigation into the authenticity of the documents cited in the L.A. Times article from last week. Both moves follow a report by The Smoking Gun website claiming that the newspaper has been ”hoaxed” by a con man and document forger who is currently in prison.
The Times article said that the newspaper had obtained FBI documents citing a confidential informant who claims that talent manager James ”Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond and promoter James Sabatino helped plan the attack on Shakur as punishment for disrespecting them, rejecting their business overtures, and to curry favor with Combs. The report also stated that the newspaper had spoken with the informant and verified that he was, in fact, at the New York City venue where Tupac was shot on the night of the attack. It also stated that other unnamed sources contacted for the article had verified the accuracy of the documents.
The Smoking Gun says Sabatino himself created the fake documents. ”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.,” The Smoking Gun states on its website. ”In fact, however, Sabatino was little more than a rap devotee, a wildly impulsive, overweight white kid from Florida whose own father once described him in a letter to a federal judge as ‘a disturbed young man who needed attention like a drug.”’
Combs has called the allegation a ”lie” from the outset. Rosemond has said, ”the allegations are false.”
The Associated Press reports that the Times’ March 17 story and related features on latimes.com attracted nearly 1 million hits, accounting for more views than any other story on latimes.com this year.