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Cops say strange letter about socialite Ridingers could be extortion attempt



Several hundred area swells who happen to be on the well-stocked party mailing list of society bigs J.R. and Loren Ridinger received a strange letter last week.

And it’s now a part of a criminal investigation.

Mailed from South Carolina, the letter appears to indicate it came from the Ridingers’ big money business, the multi-level marketing company Market America.

The content, however, was not what any of the Ridingers’ employees would dare say about them publicly — unless they’re former, bitter employees.

The two-page missive airs out the couple’s dirty laundry, alleging drug use, extramarital affairs and subpar parenting.

And the writer even names a member of the family in federal witness protection.

Miami Beach cops are having the letter analyzed and suspect it’s part of an extortion plot against the Ridingers, who routinely play host to some of showbiz’s biggest names. Pop star Jennifer Lopez, salsa king Marc Anthony and Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria are routinely seen on their mega-yacht Utopia.

“Law enforcement ... is investigating whether the letter was written by a former employee who had previously been convicted of extortion attempts against the family,” Press Millen, the Ridingers’ attorney, wrote in a prepared statement. “The letter itself is fabricated, replete with falsehoods and absurdities, and is obviously forged. ... [It] would be comical if it weren’t so vile, racist, and slanderous.”

The Ridingers went through an extortion attempt in 2008, when their chauffeur/social assistant tried to get $1 million for his silence.

Nicos Ktori, the ex-gopher, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of extortion and was sentenced to four years probation. As part of the plea agreement, he promised not to talk trash about the Ridingers. He got off probation in September but couldn’t be contacted for comment.

Loren Ridinger didn’t return a call, but one of her friends said: “She’s texting everybody to apologize for the letter.”

Family matters

Speaking of high society: University of Miami medical school benefactor Lois Pope is getting criticized publicly by son Paul Pope for secretly buying kidnap and ransom insurance on him and his four children.

Mother and son, heirs of the National Enquirer $400 million fortune, have been at odds over various topics for years. But this is their strangest feud to date.

The insurance policy, Paul said, would reimburse a ransom and expenses for private investigators to negotiate with kidnappers. Such insurance policies can cost up to $350,000 a month and are usually used by corporations with employees in risky countries.

“This makes no sense,” said Paul Pope, who lives in Weston. “I didn't know until she ’fessed up to buying it. You've seen Man on Fire. When someone from a prominent family is kidnapped, it's always an inside job. I feel threatened by it.”

Now Paul is demanding that the 80-year-old socialite cancel the policy.

Said Lois: “I love all my children and I don't want harm done to any of them. This insurance stuff is my business and my business alone.”


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