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Sen. resigns after extortion accusation

January 24, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A Bahamas senator accused of trying to extort money from actor John Travolta after his son's death resigned on Saturday and vowed to prove her innocence. Sen. Pleasant Bridgewater, an attorney from Grand Bahama, said she plans to fight "untrue and unfair charges" stemming from actions she took as a lawyer.

"How these innocent actions can be so misconstrued, so perversely twisted to mean something other than it was, is a mystery," she said without providing more details.

Bridgewater could not be immediately reached for comment. Travolta had filed a complaint of attempted extortion, according to police, but did not release any details of the alleged plot. The actor and his wife Kelly Preston have returned home to Florida with the ashes of their 16-year-old, chronically ill son, Jett, who died of a seizure this month at their family vacation home on Grand Bahama.

Authorities arrested Bridgewater Thursday on charges of abetment to extort and conspiracy to extort. She was released Friday on $40,000 bail.

The leader of Bridgewater's opposition party, former Prime Minister Perry Christie, said in a statement that he regrets the turn of events and accepted Bridgewater's resignation.

"I believe that this is the right and appropriate thing to do in these most unfortunate circumstances," Christie said.

Police also had detained ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne and former tourism minister Obie Wilchcombe. Lightbourne is still in custody but Wilchcombe has since been released pending further investigation. The parliamentarian has described himself as a friend of Travolta who was with the actor shortly after his son died.

Tabloids earlier had quoted Lightbourne on his efforts to revive Travolta's son.

Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Marvin Dames said that Lightbourne was wanted for attempted extortion. He has not been charged.


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