Witnesses in Mel Gibson case threatened
Exclusive: Allegedly ignored by Gloria Allred; almost run over
Two potential witnesses in the Mel Gibson/Oksana Grigorieva criminal investigation have told authorities at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department that their lives were threatened after they refused to fabricate evidence on behalf of Oksana Grigorieva, the actor's ex-girlfriend and the mother of his youngest child.
Grigorieva has leveled charges of domestic abuse against Gibson, claiming that the actor assaulted her on more than one occasion.
Last month, two potential witnesses in the case, Violet Kowal, a Polish porn star who claims to have slept with Gibson, and her bodyguard, Nikko Riley, told police that after they refused to help Grigorieva in her case against Gibson, her bodyguard threatened their lives by attempting to run down Riley and making verbal threats to have them killed by cops in his pocket.
Kristian Otto Herzog, Grigorieva's bodyguard, pleaded guilty to two counts of impersonating an officer in 2009 and served 255 days in jail. According to sources close to the investigation, after being threatened by Herzog, Riley and Kowal told their lawyer, Gloria Allred, about the threats. Sources close to the investigation claim that after Allred failed to report the threats to the police and suggested that Kowal hold a joint news conference with Grigorieva, Kowal fired the attorney. Allred had no comment.
The sources say that during the third week of August, Riley and Kowal contacted Gibson's lawyers about the threats and were told to immediately contact the police.
In a statement to police obtained exclusively by The Hollywood Reporter, Riley alleged that he and Kowal met with Herzog and another man named Shoull at the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills and that Herzog attempted to "intimidate myself and Violet with talks about unsolved murders in Hollywood and that he would love for me and Violet to join his and Oksana's camps."
Riley told police that Herzog offered the two potential witnesses all sorts of inducements to join the Grigorieva camp. "[H]e started to promise us with expense accounts, a paid condo, and paid gigs in Hollywood due to his connections in Hollywood," Riley said in a statement to police.
Riley told authorities that when he and Kowal declined to support Grigorieva against Gibson, Herzog began making threats against their lives. "At this point, Kris stated talking about his shotguns in his car outside, meanwhile Shoull sat across from us with a threatening look on his face, so the meeting ended and they offered to walk us to our vehicle when we left," Riley said in a statement to police.
A call to Grigorieva's family lawyer was not returned and Herzog did not return an e-mail request.
An attorney representing Herzog, Martin Garbus, says, "The allegations are untrue."
According to sources close to the investigation, Herzog, who has a website, the bodyguardgroup.com, allegedly told Riley and Kowal that he worked for a number of celebrities including Grigorieva. Riley claims that the bodyguard said Grigorieva was willing to secretly share some of the money she got from her dispute with Gibson if Riley and Kowal would say what Herzog told them to say.
In his statement to police, Riley told police that at the Polo Lounge meeting, "After 30 minutes of telling us what Oksana can do for us financially and professionally, (sic) he [Herzog] then started to ask us questions about Violet's involvement with Mr. Gibson. I told him that we can't share any info with him at that time and that's when Kris starting getting agitated with me and started again with the subtle threats about me and Violet's safety."
About an hour after the meeting, Riley told police that he received a call from Herzog in which the bodyguard "started asking me to give him copies of any evidence that Violet has about Mr. Gibson." Riley refused, according to his police statement, and "this time Kris got really angry and pushy and then proceeded with the threat that if I said anything about our meeting or our conversation he will have his dirty sheriff deputies come and take me out."
"This was a direct threat from Kris and it made me very angry but I said to myself I need proof of this guy from Oksana's camp coming in contact with us," Riley said in his statement to police. On Aug. 13, Herzog allegedly called Riley again, according to the statement Riley gave police, and Riley began taping the conversation. On Aug. 16, Riley said in his police statement that Herzog drove his car down Riley's street and attempted to strike Riley with his car.
According to sources close to the case, Riley attempted to get help from Allred, Kowal's attorney. But Riley claims that Allred kept trying to get him and Kowal to hold a press conference. "She didn't care about anything we had to say other than going after Mr. Gibson," a source close to the investigation claims Riley told authorities.
Kowal was so upset about Allred's refusal to act on the threats made by Herzog against them that she wrote an e-mail viewed by THR to Allred from Kowal.
The letter says in sum and substance:
I am writing to inform you of my attention to on move past this association with Oksana Grigorieva and her firm or representative, I don't believe it is in my best interest to associate with that group because I feel they are involved in some kind of illegal activity towards Mel Gibson in which I discussed with you before. I just want to keep everything as truthful as I can. I am writing this letter to dissolve or end the retainer agreement I signed with your firm effective immediately. I am very uncomfortable with this situation."
THR has also listened to part of the audio recordings made by Riley and Kowal and was able to take notes.
The following are notes of part of the audio taped conversation that was handed over to authorities.
"Herzog says to them on tape, "I'm offering you legal, personal, financial and professional assistance. When I say you, I mean you two. Both. It's the same fucking deal.
I'm going to call my contacts at the phone companies and say are these their phone records? I'm going to call my contacts, at the service provider, I just want a yes or no did these texts really happen? I'm going to call my contact, the call back stuff ... because I can find out in an hour. Um, I will sit you down, you personally, face to face with Harvey Levin and Mike Walters, and I'll have them guarantee to your face that from this point forward they will only support you and write positive stories about you. I will personally sit you down with them.
"You want to meet these people, Tony, Orlins, Flash, Harvey from TMZ, you want to be connected with these producers, whatever, I can do that. They are all going to support you because I asked them to. You can hear, face to face with them, they are all going to support you because I asked them to. "
Now what you need to do is help me. I wouldn't ask you to take on faith everything you learned about me on my website. I'd send you to the website and let you see it yourself, you know a picture means a thousand words, pretty much tells us our relationship, you know it's worth a thousand words. Just like me with the police, I have in terms of our relationship. It didn't happen over night. That I needed to accomplish.
If you want to get to my level, that's what I'm saying, trust my advice, if you want to be at a level that gives you financial independence for the rest of your life at that professional level. Then I need you to do three things ... Act and do as I ask.
And, I'm not starting violence, I'm only on your side. I'm only saying that's how my client list works. And, I had a huge conversation with her [Oksana] last night and a huge conversation with her this morning about how if I can verify all this stuff that you're saying is real, she's willing to allow me to rebuild your credibility with her. That's a big step because very soon, she will be worth a couple hundred million dollars.
Nikko, what do you want in your heart? If you want to be your own boss and be financially independent, and comfortable about the way you get there, I respect that about you, as long as your comfortable , because you can take every black kid out of every ghetto you've ever been through and put through college. How would that make you feel? That's the level of financial independence I'm trying to get you to.
Nikko, on the recording, says, "I'm going to tell you straight up. The only concerns I have again, Violet is my number one um responsibility, it did kind of shake me up a bit and it was kind of intimating because I've never met anyone of your influence, that powerful before. So yeah, it was a little bit intimidating, you know, that probably another reason, you did kind of scare me a bit, But now I'm cool. I thought about it and understand how frustrated you got with me. I totally get it and I want there to be trust again.
Herzog: A lot of what I'm reading right now, Herzog claiming that Nikko is sleeping with polish porn star. "I want you to be straight with me. There are photographs of you two together in somewhat intimate poses.
When a bodyguard is caught screwing a client. Britney Spears screwed one of her guys, he never got a job again. And he was at Britney Spears level. When Jamie Spears and Marty Singer and all them got done with him, he was done. I think he actually left the country. I mean, I can just tell you that I can't protect you if that ever happens.
I have set it up to have you guys [Riley and Kowal] protected by the same people who have protected most of the people who are on my front page. You know, the best of the best. The bottom line is you and I can't have any secrets. Everytime we hear something, let me tell you, I'm going to hear everything bad. I've told you everything I can to piss you off. I tell you everything.
Are you two girlfriend and boyfriend?
Nikko responds: I can't answer that question. Don't want to answer that question.
Herzog: I didn't see shit. He said he saw a picture of you two face to face and were kissing. That's not a normal bodyguard client relationship. You can tell me instead of me firing you. I can make sure that anyone who respects me will never put that shit out. If any photos are sold to them, they simply won't publish them. I can't protect you from it if then the picture came out on TMZ and I didn't want them to come out.
I'm not asking your favorite fucking position. But if I know there might be, I can make sure that shit doesn't come out, at least not to any reputable source.
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