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6 YEARS

'Passion' Screenwriter Says Mel Gibson Used Christianity To Defraud Him of Millions

Passion_dvd We're all aware of Mel Gibson's assorted personal problems, but does the actor-director need to learn some Christian charity?

Benedict Fitzgerald, a screenwriter who worked on Gibson's $600-million grossing "The Passion of the Christ," claims in a new lawsuit that Gibson defrauded him of millions of dollars and hogged the writing spotlight for work on the hit movie.

The lawsuit was filed yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court, and in the complaint, Fitzgerald claims he was "ensnarled by a conspiracy of ongoing fraud, including its integral cover-up, perpetrated by Gibson and his associates, channeled through a complex of Gibson company conduits, and employing a series of stratagems, all with the express purpose of depriving Ben of the full fruits of his efforts as the screenwriter of The Passion."

Fitzgerald says that Gibson promised a very small budget film and that "whatever money might be made would be distributed among the people, excluding Gibson, who worked on the picture."

The screenwriter says he turned in his first draft on September 11, 2001, that Gibson loved it, and that he later exploited "their common Catholic faith" to deprive him of millions.

Fitzgerald is represented by William Zeltonoga and Richard Ross in LA.