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The Smoking Gun says that the LA Times' big investigative scoop last week implicating Bad Boy records chief Sean "Puffy" Combs in the 1994 shooting and robbery of rival rapper Tupac Shakur was based on fabricated evidence. The site says that James Sabatino (pictured)—an incarcerated con man who appeared as a player in the shooting in the LAT story—is actually a fabulist who forged the FBI reports that the paper relied on to build its investigation.

TSG says that the supposed FBI reports implicating Puffy et al. do not in fact exist in the FBI's database. The spelling mistakes, use of incorrect abbreviations, and the use of typewriter on the reports (authentic modern FBI documents are created on computers) coincides with Sabatino's own M.O. in the court filings he's done since he's been in jail.

The suspect documents contain information supposedly provided to agents in the FBI's New York office by an unnamed "confidential source." The records, which Sabatino himself has distributed, conveniently contain black redaction marks covering up the name of the agent (or agents) who prepared the "302s" as well as the corresponding FBI case number...

Additionally, an examination of the three documents revealed that the bodies of the respective "302s" were actually created on a typewriter (the "frame" of the reports is consistent with an authentic "302" template). In some instances, you can see where one letter was typed on top of an existing character, a so-called overstrike. In an interview, Bruce Mouw, a former FBI supervisor who headed the bureau's pursuit of John Gotti, estimated that agents ceased using typewriters about 30 years ago...

A comparison of the "302s" and Sabatino's own court filings shows that the authors of each set of documents share remarkably similar spelling deficiencies. For instance, the word "making" appears as "makeing" in both the "302s" and Sabatino's pro se court pleadings. Similarly, the authors also have difficulty with the word "during." It appears as "durring" in both sets of documents.

The LAT now says it's launching its own investigation into the matter. Puffy denied the LAT's initial story. If it does turn out to be the victim of a hoax, the paper could be facing one of the most dramatic challenges to its credibility ever.