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Shaquille O’Neal Calls Hacking Charges ‘Complete And Utter Fabrication,’ Says He Was Extorted

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NBA star Shaquille O’Neal is lashing out over a new lawsuit brought against him accusing him of computer hacking, destroying evidence and trying to frame a former employee of criminal activity.

RadarOnline.com broke the news Wednesday that Shawn Darling had filed a multi-count lawsuit in Miami-Dade County, Florida against Shaq, including racketeering as one of his causes of action.

READ THE LAWSUIT

Now Shaq’s attorney, Benjamine Reid, has put out a press release calling the basis for the lawsuit “complete and utter fabrication.” He also details Darling’s extensive criminal background and says the former employee has tried to obtain a $12 million payment from Shaq.

Darling accuses O’Neal of hacking into the voicemail of Vanessa Lopez, his mistress who also has an active lawsuit against O’Neal. And Shaq is accused of using law enforcement contacts to improperly obtain information about another mistress.

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But O’Neal tells a different story. According to his lawyer, “Shawn Darling, a computer consultant engaged by basketball star Shaquille O’Neal to install and service a home theater and then service personal computer equipment, copied without permission thousands of emails and communications from Mr. O’Neal.”

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Reid says Darling, an ex-convict who has been arrested or charged in more than 15 criminal cases in the Chicago area, copied Shaq’s personal emails with the intent to extort millions of dollars from him, and threatened to go public with the information if he wasn’t paid.

In 1999, Darling was sentenced to 32 months in a federal prison in Wisconsin for bank fraud and misuse of Social Security numbers.

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Reid said, “Darling, an ex-convict with a long criminal record that he failed to disclose and hid from Mr. O’Neal, has demanded $12 million in exchange for not releasing Mr. O’Neal’s personal and confidential emails and communications. When Mr. O’Neal refused to be extorted, Darling filed a lawsuit claiming ‘invasion of privacy and emotional distress.’”

Darling, who says he was hired in 2007, told RadarOnline.com exclusively that he made no secret of his criminal past to O’Neal and “that’s why Shaq hired me.”

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Reid says Darling “filed a lawsuit which seeks only to embarrass, harass and extract money” from O’Neal.

“This is another unfortunate incidence of people targeting celebrities in search of a big pay day.”

But despite Darling’s sordid past a lot of people may get dragged into this lawsuit, which overlaps with the one filed by Lopez, who is represented by power attorney Gloria Allred.

Allred and Lopez declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by RadarOnline.com.

Here is the complete press release from O’Neal’s lawyers:

SHAQUILLE O’NEAL TARGETED IN LAWSUIT BY EX-CON

Ex-convict with lengthy criminal record copied thousands of emails from the basketball  star and demanded $12 Million to not disclose them.

MIAMI, FLORIDA—Shawn Darling, a computer consultant engaged by basketball star Shaquille O’Neal to install and service a home theater and then service personal computer equipment, copied without permission thousands of emails and communications from Mr. O’Neal. Darling, an ex-convict with a long criminal record that he failed to disclose and hid from Mr. O’Neal, has demanded $12 million in exchange for not releasing Mr. O’Neal’s personal and confidential emails and communications. When Mr. O’Neal refused to be extorted, Darling filed a lawsuit claiming “invasion of privacy and emotional distress.” 

Mr. O’Neal is represented by Miami attorney Benjamine Reid.  Reid called the basis for the suit “complete and utter fabrication.”

Darling was sentenced in 1999 to 32 months in a federal prison in Wisconsin for bank fraud and misuse of Social Security numbers, and upon his release, the judge ordered Darling to have no contact with organized career criminals.  Darling also has a record of being arrested or charged in more than 15 criminal cases in the Chicago area.

Darling has hired three lawyers in succession, demanding payment of $12 million to not disclose Mr. O’Neal’s personal communications and emails.  Mr. O’Neal has made it crystal clear that he will never respond to these outrageous tactics.  As a result, Darling filed a lawsuit which seeks only to embarrass, harass and extract money from Mr. O’Neal.

Reid said all the material copied from O’Neal’s computers was done so without permission. He said this is another unfortunate incident of people targeting celebrities in search of a big pay day.

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