A lawyer for John Travolta denied Friday that he tried to set up a former Bahamas senator who is on trial for allegedly attempting to extort $25 million from the movie star.
Attorney Michael McDermott told the court he was following police instructions when he secretly recorded conversations with Pleasant Bridgewater, who is accused of demanding the money on behalf of a paramedic who treated the actor’s 16-year-old son, Jett, following a seizure that led to his death.
The recordings are expected to be played in court next week.
Prosecutors say the former senator and the paramedic, Tarino Lightbourne, later agreed to accept $10 million in installments over a four-year period.
McDermott’s testimony came in response to suggestions by Bridgewater’s defense attorney, Murrio Ducille, that after the death he traveled to the Bahamas with the “sole mission” of setting Bridgewater up.
Ducille accused McDermott of arriving with “evil in his heart.”
But McDermott said police told him to meet Bridgewater in a room outfitted with hidden cameras, and he believed he couldn’t say no.
Ducille countered that as a lawyer, McDermott should have known he was not obliged to participate in the sting.
“I’m a commercial litigator,” McDermott replied. “I am not a criminal lawyer.”
Bridgewater and Lightbourne are accused of threatening to make public a consent form that Travolta signed authorizing his autistic son to be flown to the U.S. after the seizure, instead of seeking treatment in the Bahamas.
Travolta later changed his mind, and Jett died at a local hospital Jan. 2.