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May 9, 2013

Lawrence man charged in attempted blackmail of Boston celebrity

LAWRENCE — A federal grand jury has indicted a Lawrence man for attempting to blackmail an unnamed Boston celebrity into paying $20,000 for a video that allegedly showed him flirting with young women in a Boston bar last fall.

Felix Paulino, 35, who was already in federal custody after being arrested last month, was charged with interstate extortionate threats and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Paulino left a voice message on Oct. 22, 2012 with an agent of the celebrity — identified in court documents as "John Doe, a well-known Boston personality" — saying he had "incriminating evidence against one of your clients" while also threatening to "go viral," according to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Daniel R. Romanzo.

When a "cooperating individual" used by the FBI in the investigation returned the telephone call, Paulino explained that he had a three-minute video of John Doe at a private backroom of the nightclub 'Venu' and that "the video depicted John Doe talking to several young women and attempting to lure them to his room," Romanzo wrote in his affidavit.

"Felix then told the cooperator that he would sell the three-minute video to (celebrity news website and outlet) TMZ unless the cooperator met him in person to negotiate the matter," the FBI agent noted.

The evidence against Paulino includes emails, recorded conversations he had with the FBI cooperator and the video which showed him with the celebrity. Paulino even offered to sign an affidavit that included a statement that he would not sell the tape to anyone else "to make it legit," according to court documents.

A meeting between the FBI cooperator and Paulino set for last Nov. 6 at a restaurant never took place after FBI surveillance personnel observed Paulino looking at them. Paulino left the restaurant and texted a message to the cooperator, "You know ... I'm smarter then (sic) you think ta ta now" and "No I'm done bye," according to Romanzo's affidavit.

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