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Page Six Freelancer in FBI Probe

page_six_probe.jpgFrom today’s Post:

April 6, 2006 — A freelancer for The Post’s Page Six gossip column is under investigation by the FBI on suspicion of asking “extortionate demands” in return for not writing any damaging stories about Beverly Hills billionaire Ron Burkle. Jared Paul Stern, who worked two days per week on Page Six, allegedly demanded $100,000 from Burkle, who made his fortune in supermarkets, plus an annual stipend of $10,000.

The report says that Stern would “refrain from writing damaging, negative stories, and write puff pieces” about Burkle. Post sources say the investigation is two weeks old, and that the FBI has Stern on audio and video tape. Stern has been suspended by the paper, and the Post is cooperating with investigators.

Burkle, you’ll recall, is rumored to be one of the possible investors, along with Rev. Jesse Jackson‘s son Yusef, for Radar‘s third launch.

UPDATE: The Daily News reports that Stern solicted $220,000, and had asked for payments during two 90-minute meetings with Burkle.

This one, as they say, is developing.

The Billionaire, the Post and the $220G Shakedown [NYDN]

Continue for Post EIC Col Allan‘s statement.

Allan: “Jared Paul Stern is a freelance reporter who sometimes worked two days a week at the New York Post. He has been suspended pending the outcome of the federal investigation. Should the allegations prove true, Mr. Stern’s conduct would be morally and journalistically reprehensible, a gross abuse of privilege, and in violation of the New York Post’s standards and ethics.”

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