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Baldwin accused of threatening to smear Costner
Question of the Day
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Stephen Baldwin threatened to feed personal information about Kevin Costner to The New York Times if the two actors couldn't resolve their business dispute over millions of dollars in BP money after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a witness testified Wednesday at a trial for Baldwin's lawsuit against Costner.
Scott Smith, CEO of a company that contracted with BP after the spill, said he doesn't know if Baldwin followed through on the threat he allegedly made during a car ride from New Orleans to Grand Isle, La., in November 2010.
Smith, who was called as a witness by Costner's lawyers, didn't specify the nature of the personal information that Baldwin claimed to have about Costner. He wouldn't elaborate on his testimony outside the courtroom.
On the witness stand, however, Smith said he was shocked by his exchange with Baldwin, whom he had hired as a spokesman for his company, Opflex Solutions.
"I said, `Stephen, that's blackmail,'" Smith recalled.
He quoted Baldwin as saying, "I have to be careful how I do it."
In December 2010, Baldwin and friend Spyridon Contogouris filed a lawsuit accusing Costner and business partner Patrick Smith of duping them into selling their shares of a company that marketed oil cleanup devices to BP.
Baldwin received $500,000 in exchange for selling his shares in Ocean Therapy Solutions in June 2010. The actor testified Monday that he would have held out for much more money if he had known BP had agreed to make an $18 million deposit on a $52 million order for 32 centrifuges.
Smith acknowledged during cross-examination by James Cobb, one of Baldwin's attorneys, that he described Baldwin as a "trusted and good friend" in an email he sent after the November 2010 car ride.
Cobb also asked Smith if it was true that he had asked Baldwin to get him in touch with Costner, but Baldwin refused because he didn't think it was appropriate. Smith said that question "doesn't make any sense."
"You're asking me to affirm something that's not true, and I'm not going to do that," Smith said.
BP deployed a few of the oil-separating centrifuges it had ordered from Ocean Therapy Solutions on a barge in June 2010. The company capped the well the following month, and it was permanently sealed in September 2010.
Smith's company makes foam that repels water but absorbs oil. He said BP bought roughly $1 million of the foam from his company after the spill.
Baldwin and Costner have largely ignored each other during the trial, which started June 4 and could wrap up as early as Thursday.
Costner testified that he never saw Baldwin contribute anything to their company's efforts to persuade BP to use the centrifuges.
By Matt Kibbe
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