Mariah Carey’s ex-assistant has been sanctioned for destroying evidence in her ongoing blackmail case with the pop superstar.
The Hero hitmaker has taken Lianna Shakhnazarian, aka Lianna Azarian, to court claiming she attempted to use “intimate videos” of the singer to land an $8 million (£6.25 million) payday and violated a non-disclosure agreement.
Shakhnazarian, who is countersuing Carey for wrongful termination and harassment, has denied engaging in the extortion plot. However, earlier this year she was also accused of attempting to sabotage the musician’s case by getting rid of evidence, which the mother-of-two argued would make it difficult to challenge claims suggesting she had permitted the personal footage to be filmed.
Now a New York judge has agreed to penalise the former employee, after finding she destroyed two videos and WhatsApp messages which could have boosted Carey’s argument.
According to the New York Post, Shakhnazarian was also ruled to have spilt water on the cell phone in question before giving it away, even though she was already facing legal action from Carey.
In a decision issued on Friday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Andrew Borrok wrote: “Trading in her cellphone without taking any measures to save the videos, messages, and other data after this lawsuit was filed, when Ms. Shakhnazarian had an undeniable duty to preserve evidence, was grossly negligent, if not intentional.”
He went on: “(Shakhnazarian’s) actions constituted spoliation of critical evidence and severely prejudiced Ms. Carey’s ability to prosecute her case.”
Shakhnazarian has since been ordered to surrender her current phone for forensic examination, as well as cover attorneys’ fees for Carey regarding the evidence dispute.
The case has yet to conclude.