John Travolta Extortionists: Deal or No Deal?

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John Travolta was apparently being played - albeit unsuccessfully - by a pair of goons looking to exploit his unspeakable family tragedy and not very subtly at that.

Seriously, these peeps make the tactics of Joe Halderman look subtle.

Transcripts have been released of discussions between alleged extortionist, former Bahamas Sen. Pleasant Bridgewater, and Travolta's lawyer, Michael McDermott.

The negotiations, per se, play out kind of like a lame game show.

The documents show Bridgewater, an attorney for fellow defendant Tarino Lightbourne, haggling with McDermott over how much the Travoltas should pay for the "Refusal of Treatment" document they threatened to make public.

At one point, McDermott offers property instead of cash, complaining it is too hard to raise $25 million cash - a common problem for those being extorted.

Travolta Pic

John Travolta is dealing with extortion on top of a family tragedy.

Bridgewater says Lightbourne believed that the document was worth hundreds of millions of dollars ... but he was willing to accept a modest $25 million.

McDermott countered with an offer of only $250,000, adding that the Travoltas could go as high as $1 million if Lightbourne would also accept property.

Later, McDermott, recognizing the absurdity of the situation, says, "We can do a little rug merchant negotiations here," then complains that their demands of $25 million require John to come up with "like a pickup truck full of money."

The extortion trial, which resulted from the alleged bilking of the actor after his son Jett's death, continues this week. It's unclear if John will testify again.

Bottom line? Don't attempt to blackmail a celebrity. Not only is it illegal, immoral and unlikely to succeed, but they probably can afford better lawyers.