FORT MYERS, FLA. - The last thing the Twins needed this spring as they try to rebound from a disastrous 2011 season was a major distraction. But they appear to have one brewing after reports surfaced that Carl Pavano, the team's Opening Day starter, is the target of an alleged extortion attempt by a former high school classmate that has resulted in a police investigation.
Police in Southington, Conn., where Pavano grew up, have filed a search warrant affidavit that claims the classmate, Christian Bedard, threatened to reveal a three-year "emotional and physical relationship" with Pavano while both were teenagers unless he was given a navy blue Range Rover with tan leather.
The affidavit, first reported by the Record-Journal of Meriden, says that the alleged extortion threats were made in a Facebook message to Pavano's sister, Michelle DeGennaro. DeGennaro filed a police complaint in December. According to the affidavit, DeGennaro said that Bedard, 36, was, "attempting to extort monetary funds for his fabricated, false information" and that he believes he can hold the Pavano family "hostage" with the information.
DeGennaro's complaint has triggered an investigation into possible charges of second-degree harassment and first-degree criminal attempt to commit larceny against Bedard.
Pavano, when asked about the situation before a workout at Hammond Stadium on Thursday morning, would not comment, saying only that it was a legal issue. Pavano, who is married, also did not respond to an e-mail inquiry later in the day.
While Pavano was working out in Fort Myers, Fla., the Twins played a spring training game in Bradenton and team officials were attempting to gather details about Pavano's situation.
"Well, it affects Carl, and we'll have to see exactly what comes about here," Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. "I don't know enough about it. I haven't talked to him yet. I suspect I'll have more tomorrow."
Bedard did not return calls to his office or home on Thursday but didn't back off his claims in an e-mail sent to the Associated Press.
"I have been openly gay for most of my adult life," the statement said. "For years, my physical high school relationship with Carl Pavano has been well-known to my close friends and family. Carl Pavano's sister, Michelle DeGennaro, contacted me on Facebook asking under what conditions would I not talk about my relationship with Carl.''
Bedard, who referred to Pavano as his "first love," claimed that he wasn't serious about wanting a Range Rover.
"I did not attempt to extort money from Carl Pavano," Bedard said. "I have not been charged with any crime. I will allow my local police department to conclude their investigation and I will have no further comment."
Police raided Bedard's residence on March 21, removing his laptop and materials about his relationship with Pavano and materials pertaining to a book he claimed to be writing. He claimed, in other messages to DeGennaro, that he had a $1.2 million book deal set up that he would drop if the family met his demands.
"I feel a bit violated," Bedard wrote on his Facebook page the day of the raid, "but I hope they charge me with something, because I will bring it to trial ... finally I'll be able to tell my story and I will have my closure, which was the whole point to begin with."
Bedard has a criminal record that goes back several years. The most serious offense occurred in 2011, when he was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to one charge of third-degree burglary. He was released later in the year on good behavior. Between 2002 and 2007, he was convicted on two separate accounts of driving under the influence, as well as interfering with an officer and second-degree breach of peace.
The case has added interest in Southington because Bedard's mother, Elaine, is on the town's police commission. Southington is located about 18 miles southwest of Hartford.
The Twins, meanwhile, will try to proceed as normal. Manager Ron Gardenhire hoped that the Pavano situation would not become a distraction as the team wraps up spring training and prepares for Opening Day next Friday in Baltimore.
"It's really unfair for me to answer anything until I've talked to Carl and see what his take on the whole thing is, which I would imagine he's in the same situation as all of us," Gardenhire said. "He can't do anything about it, he's got other people who are taking care of it. So we'll see."
Staff writer Joe Christensen contributed to this report.