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L.A. Billionaire’s Wife: Burkle Spied

May 20, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Newly unsealed documents in billionaire Ron Burkle’s divorce include allegations by his former wife that he spied on her, their young son and her boyfriend.

The documents, released late Friday, also included a declaration from Burkle’s 29-year-old daughter that her father once told her his security staff had videos of wife Janet Burkle and her boyfriend having sex.

Burkle’s attorney, Patricia L. Glaser, disputed the allegations in a letter to the Los Angeles Times.

``Mr. Burkle never told his daughter any such thing,″ Glaser said. ``There are no such videotapes. There was no such eavesdropping. This is not true.″

The declaration came in support of Janet Burkle’s 2003 application for a court restraining order, which was denied. The allegations were withdrawn and the divorce court judge ruled they were inadmissible, Glaser said.

Burkle’s security chief, Frank Renzi, told the Times that Carrie Anne Burkle had apparently misconstrued a conversation with her father about her mother’s boyfriend, an ex-convict.

The 1,200 pages of documents were released two days after the California Supreme Court rejected Burkle’s effort to keep them sealed, which Burkle said was needed to protect his children. The court let stand a decision striking down a law that would have kept Burkle’s financial information sealed.

Lawyers for media outlets including The Associated Press and the Times had argued for the records’ release.

Lawyers for Janet Burkle argued in the documents that her husband concealed pending mergers in 1997 _ when the couple reached a post-marital agreement _ that eventually created one of the largest supermarket chains in the nation. Burkle owned the Ralphs and Food 4 Less grocery chains before selling them to the Kroger Co. in 1999.

A state appeals court sided with Burkle on Thursday, rejecting his wife’s claim that he had hidden assets.

The documents include an analysis of Burkle’s financial investments as of 1997 and Janet Burkle’s account of their spending and property. She said in a filing that it was ``common for me to spend $15,000 at one time at Barneys, and my average monthly expense for clothing was at least $10,000 (a conservative estimate).″

Burkle, whose estimated personal wealth exceeds $2 billion, is a political contributor who has given millions of dollars mostly to Democratic candidates and campaigns. He has also given more than $200,000 to Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his campaigns.

The publicity-shy billionaire recently accused New York Post gossip writer Jared Paul Stern of trying to shake him down for $220,000 to ensure he was portrayed in a favorable light in the paper’s Page Six column. Stern denied the claim.

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