John Travolta Extortion Case Dismissed By Judge

Actor said he can't bear to testify again in trial linked to son Jett's death.

ByABC News
September 29, 2009, 7:33 AM

Sept. 6, 2010— -- A judge in the Bahamas dismissed charges Monday against two people accused of trying to extort money from John Travolta. Officials said the actor no longer wanted to face the pain of a new trial stemming from the death of his teenage son.

"The Travolta family has said that this matter has caused them unbelievable stress and pain and they wish to put this whole thing behind them," Prosecutor Neil Braithwaite told the court after a jury had been picked to hear the case.

"The long-pending status of this matter continued to take a heavy emotional toll on my family, causing us to conclude that it was finally time to put this matter behind us," the actor said in a written statement. "Therefore, after much reflection I concluded that it was in my family's best interest for me not to voluntarily return to The Bahamas to testify a second time at trial."

Back in October, a Bahamian judge declared a mistrial in the case of two people accused of trying to extort $25 million from Travolta's family. The judge had said he suspected juror misconduct after a local politician said in a speech played on radio and TV that former Sen. Pleasant Bridgewater had been acquitted.

In the trail, John Travolta testified that the Bahamian medic accused of trying to blackmail him was allegedly threatening to say that Travolta was at fault in his son Jett's death.

The actor was called back to the stand to confirm that on Jan. 16, 2009, two weeks after Jett died, he had been notified by his bodyguard and his attorney that someone was demanding $25 million and, if it wasn't paid, a document Travolta signed to refuse transporting Jett to a local hospital would be "sold to the press."

Showing no emotion, Travolta told the court in Nassau that paramedic Tarino Lightbourne allegedly threatened that the leaked document would result in "stories that would imply that the death of my son was intentional … that I was culpable in some way."

On cross-examination, Travolta admitted that he was never called or threatened personally by either of the defendants -- Lightbourne or Bridgewater, who is also charged with blackmailing Travolta.

The case against the pair has always alleged that the threats were made through Travolta's bodyguards and attorney.

The prosecution had showed a hidden-camera video with incriminating evidence against Lightbourne and Bridgewater.

The video captured Lightbourne, negotiating with Travolta's lawyer, Michael McDermott, for a payoff to keep do-not-transfer documents signed by Travolta confidential,. Near the end of the 44-minute tape, the pair settled on a price of $15 million.

"Case closed. Case closed," Lightbourne said in the video. "Once this is closed, it's buried deeper than the Titanic."

The alleged extortion did not stay buried for long, however, as Travolta's bodyguard of 23 years said during the trial that he learned of the extortion attempt and was the one to tell Travolta. Travolta took the two defendants to trial earlier this month.

The paperwork they allegedly threatened to release is a "refusal to transport," which someone would sign when refusing emergency medical services, thereby releasing first responders from liability.

The do-not-transfer documents were signed by Travolta, meaning he wanted son Jett, 16, taken to Florida for treatment. But the actor later changed his mind and accompanied Jett to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A police report claimed Bridgewater burned her copy of the key medical record in the case, using a candle to ignite the document, and flushed the ashes down the toilet after she got nervous the "incident was about to explode."