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A gang kidnapping case 3 years in the making, in which investigators looked into possible charges against NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, came to an abrupt end Tuesday as a prosecutor conceded that the alleged victim and star witness had credibility problems.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar de Longoria ordered the case against seven Main Street Crip members dismissed after the prosecutor announced that his office would not proceed with the case.

The unraveling of the kidnapping, robbery and assault case over a Feb. 10, 2008, incident revolved around the purported victim in the case, Robert Ross, a convicted felon and former gang member who was a one-time friend of O’Neal’s. Ross had told authorities, and later testified in court, that gang members kidnapped and beat him while mentioning O’Neal’s name and demanding a sex tape of the NBA player.

A Deputy District Attorney said Ross’ testimony in a preliminary hearing and his conduct outside court had “given some cause for concern” about his believability.

“We do not have the necessary confidence in the credibility of Mr. Ross to proceed in this case,” the Deputy D.A. said. His statement was met with loud cheers from the audience and a chorus of requests for a “motion to dismiss” from seven defense attorneys.

The prosecution’s unusual move marked a surprise twist in the case, which thrust into the spotlight O’Neal’s friendship with Robert Ross just as Shaquille O’Neal announced his retirement after 19 years in the NBA. Ross has also filed a civil lawsuit against O’Neal and his one-time business partner Mark Stevens, alleging the two were behind the attack.

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