The witness who found the gun used in the shooting came under cross-examination...

The SEAN ‘PUFFY’ COMBS shooting trial took yet another bizarre turn yesterday (February 14) when the FBI, Las Vegas escort agencies and mob crime were introduced into the courtroom.

And at one point Judge Charles Solomon called a brief recess and cleared out the jury, in order to issue a stern rebuke to defence and prosecution lawyers, after their grandstanding threatening to completely overshadow proceedings.

Tempers flared when Puffy’s lawyer, Ben Brafman, began cross-examining Anthony Nastasi. Nastasi, an escort agency owner, is the prosecution witness who has claimed to have found the gun that was alleged to have been thrown from Puffy’s car as it fled the nightclub shooting on December 27 1999.

In an attempt to discredit Nastasi, Brafman focused his questioning on prostitution-related charges Nastasi is facing in Las Vegas, and his cooperation with the FBI in a related case. According to [url=]www.mtv.com, the FBI gave Nastasi $30,000 for travel and legal expenses in connection with his help on a case involving alleged collusion between Las Vegas police and organised crime figures.

The questioning provoked prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos to snap: “Objection – this is atrocious,” to which Brafman fired back: “What you’ve done is atrocious, you are right.”

During the recess, Judge Solomon made it clear he would allow only limited questioning into Nastasi’s background. “I’m not going to turn this trial into a trial of this Las Vegas case,” he said.

Nastasi’s testimony followed that of his friend and employee George Pappas. Pappas testified that he heard something hit his parked car as Puffy’s Ford Lincoln Navigator drove by. He said he looked and saw a hand sticking out of the open rear-passenger side window of the Navigator, and later found a black 9mm semiautomatic gun outside his car. Puffy is alleged to have been sitting in the right-rear seat of the Navigator.

Pappas continued that on hearing news reports of Combs’ arrest, following a shooting, and of his flight from the scene in a silver Navigator, he decided to get rid of the gun. He turned it over to his boss at the escort agency, Nastasi.

Nastasi testified that he immediately called a friend at the FBI, who, accompanied by a New York police detective, came to Pappas’ house to collect the gun on December 29.

Brafman asked Pappas how close the police car chasing the Navigator was when he saw it pass. This was a key point, as the officer in the police car has never said he saw a gun thrown from the Navigator. Pappas said he couldn’t measure the distance, putting it at some 10 to 20 seconds.

Puffy, his bodyguard Anthony ‘Wolf’ Jones and rapper Jamal ‘Shyne’ Barrow face charges relating to the shooting in Club New York during the early hours of December 27 1999. While Puffy and Jones face weapons and bribery charges, Shyne faces the more serious charges of attempted murder, reckless endangerment and weapons possession.

The case continues today (February 15).