Seagal Story Spurring Mob Intimidation?

updated 09/06/2002 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/06/2002 10:00AM

In what reads like a plot from a Steven Seagal movie -- only better -- police in Los Angeles are looking into reports of threats made against two journalists, Ned Zeman of Vanity Fair magazine and Anita Busch of the Los Angeles Times.

Both journalists have recently written about alleged Mafia attempts to extort money from the pony-tailed action star.

The Associated Press reports that Zeman, whose article on the situation appears in the current issue of Vanity Fair, told investigators that a driver pulled up alongside his car on Aug. 26, pointed a gun at him and ordered him to "Stop."

Two months earlier, claims Busch, someone had smashed her windshield and left a dead fish and a rose on her car's hood. A note with the simple message, reading "Stop," was placed on the driver's side window, police say.

The LAPD's organized crime division is investigating the report, Sgt. John Pasquariello confirmed to AP, saying that, for the moment at least, the two incidents are being treated as separate and unrelated.

Officials at both publications tell the news service that steps are being taken to insure the safety of both reporters, whose bylines appeared under stories that tracked a federal grand-jury indictment involving Julius Nasso, a filmmaker who was also Seagal's former business partner.

Nasso, arrested in June, has been charged with conspiring with the Mob to extort money from Seagal, after federal prosecutors in New York said they had taped Nasso and a Gambino crime family member plotting the shakedown. Nasso has pleaded not guilty to extortion.

Martin R. Pollner, a New York-based attorney for Seagal, 51, said that he was in contact with law enforcement officials to determine whether or not the incidents involving Zeman and Busch posed any threat to his client.

Without further explanation, Pollner said of Seagal's current status: "He does not travel alone, let's put it that way."

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