The Los Angeles Times has retracted an article that implied that a 1994 assault on Tupac Shakur was carried out by associates of Sean "Diddy" Combs, and that he knew about it ahead of time.
The paper has removed the March 17 story, "An Attack on Tupac Shakur Launched a Hip-Hop War," from its Web site, telling readers that the story "relied heavily on information that The Times no longer believes to be credible."
On March 27, the paper apologized for running the story by Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Chuck Philips.
"The Times has since concluded that the FBI reports were fabricated and that some of the other sources relied on — including the person Philips previously believed to be the 'confidential source' cited in the FBI reports — do not support major elements of the story," the paper said Monday.
The information said that James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond, a talent manager; Jacques "Haitian Jack" Agnant, a figure on the New York hip-hop scene; and James Sabatino, purportedly one of Combs' associates, arranged the Shakur assault, the paper said.
"The Times now believes that Sabatino fabricated the FBI reports and concocted his role in the assault as well as his supposed relationships with Combs, Rosemond and Agnant," the paper said.
The retraction and apologies follow an investigation launched after The Smoking Gun Web site reported earlier in the day that the paper was conned by a prisoner who doctored the documents.
Combs denied that he had any prior knowledge of or involvement in the robbery and shooting of Shakur at a New York recording studio. He and other subjects of the story claimed they had been defamed by the newspaper.
The Smoking Gun said the documents seemed phony because they appeared to be written on a typewriter instead of a computer and included blacked-out sections not typically found in such documents, among other problems.
The Web site claimed the documents were fabricated by a prison inmate with a history of exaggerating his place in the rap music world.
The shooting triggered a feud between East and West Coast rappers that led to the killings of Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.
The story said associates hoping to curry favor with Combs — who was overseeing B.I.G.'s white-hot career at the time — lured Shakur to the studio because of his disrespect toward them.
The story and related features on latimes.com attracted nearly 1 million hits — more viewers than any other story on latimes.com this year, the newspaper said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.