Veteran investigator said witness in R. Kelly looked to extort t

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A private investigator testified Thursday that the prosecution’s star witness and her fiancΘ tried to use an alleged book deal to get at least $300,000 in hush money from R. Kelly, during a secretly recorded conversation in March.

Jack Palladino, a famed private investigator and attorney in California who once had President Bill Clinton as a client, and his senior investigator Alison Cain, met Lisa Van Allen and Yul Brown at the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta in an attempt to get evidence of an extortion plot against the R&B singer. Robert Sylvester Kelly, 41, is charged with child pornography for allegedly videotaping himself and an underage girl %uFFFDbetween 1998 and 2000%uFFFDhaving sex. The alleged victim, who would now be 23 years old, told a grand jury that she is not the female in the video. Kelly pleaded not guilty. If convicted the Grammy-winning artist faces up to 15 years in prison. Van Allen, 27, had group sex with the music star and the alleged victim during a three-year period when the alleged victim was a teen. The Atlanta resident also took a videotape of her, Kelly and the alleged victim having sex from Kelly’s duffle bag in his hotel room years ago in Georgia, she testified June 2. Palladino foiled the shake down attempt, he testified. Brown%uFFFD who Palladino and Cain suggested was Van Allen’s mouth piece because he did all the talking while Van Allen nodded in agreement%uFFFDstarted the meeting at the hotel’s restaurant by stating that Van Allen was offered $300,000 to write a book about her life with Kelly, and they “want to do what’s best for our family,” Palladino said. “I kept asking who [made the offer]. They wouldn’t tell me,” he said. Based on Brown’s history of drug, fraud and weapons convictions, Palladino was certain they wanted money from Kelly. “I had a very good idea they would try to extort money. I wanted to give them the opportunity to commit the crime,” Palladino said, shrugging off claims that a book deal ever existed. “I assumed they were trying to solicit a bribe. It was a coded way to get money from my client,” he said. Palladino said he made it clear to Brown and Van Allen that Kelly is “never going to pay.” That’s when Brown ended the meeting by getting up from the table telling Palladino, “Talk to your client, talk to your client,” Palladino testified. Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Heilingoetter said Van Allen nor Brown ever asked for money, and implied that Palladino went to Atlanta to threaten the couple. Laughing, Palladino said, “I don’t think Mr. Brown intimidates easily.” Heilingoetter, stating that mentioning a book deal in no way hints towards extortion, said to Palladino, “I’m trying to figure out where this extortion is, except somewhere between your ears. “I had a very good idea that they were trying to extort money,” Palladino said, as if the two were engaged in a sparring match. Heilingoetter asked, “Are you clairvoyant?” Palladino said he has encountered scores of extortionists in his 30-plus years as an investigator, and knew he “wasn’t wrong” about Van Allen and Brown. “The conversation was recorded from beginning to end,” Palladino told the jury. During earlier testimony, the defense tried to challenge the credibility of a few of the prosecution’s witnesses. Two investigators testified that the parent of one of the alleged victim’s friends was not sure if it was the alleged victim on the video, contradicting her prior testimony. Also, a Chicago police officer testified that drugs were found on Bennie Edwards Sr. during a February traffic stop on the Southeast Side. Edwards testified for the prosecution and identified the alleged victim as a relative. When the officer asked Edwards during the traffic stop if he had anything illegal, Edwards replied, “I have some rock,” Officer Joseph Derdin told the jury. Four rock-like substances that tested positive for crack cocaine were found in a lottery ticket under Edwards’ hat, the officer testified. During Edwards’ earlier testimony he admitted to the drug charge and said he was attending a drug program. On cross examination, he denied the drug offense. Trial testimony resumes June 9.

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