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Names & Faces: Tareq Salahi, Tiger Woods, Lady Gaga, Uma Thurman, Roman Polanski

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Time-out on Salahi debt

Apparently, Tareq Salahi's watch can't do the time.

Posing yet another legal snarl for the White House's famous uninvited guests, the Warren County Clerk's office disclosed that the fancy Patek Philippe watch that Salahi handed over last week to try to satisfy a debt to his onetime landscaper is not working.

Sheila Thomas, deputy clerk of Warren County's General District Court, told our colleague James Hohmann Tuesday that the timepiece seems authentic (the Swiss maker charges well more than $15,000 for many of its watches) -- it's just not ticking. So for a day or so it looked as though the court would have to get it repaired before it could be sold to repay landscaper Mike E. Dunbar. However: Late Tuesday, Dunbar told Hohmann that his lawyer now has a certified check from the Salahis to cover his unpaid wages and legal fees. Which means Salahi could get his watch back Wednesday.

Last December, a judge ordered Salahi and his wife, Michaele, to pay Dunbar about $2,000. They never paid, leading to last Friday's courtroom confrontation where the judge demanded the watch off Salahi's wrist.

In other Salahi news: With the House Homeland Security Committee voting Wednesday whether to subpoena the couple, their lawyer is saying they'll plead the Fifth. Stephen Best wrote in a letter that the committee has rushed to premature judgment -- citing D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton's assessment that the Salahis are "practiced con artists" and a committee counsel who he said told their lawyers they were a modern-day "Bonnie and Clyde."

In-law scare for Tiger

Tiger Woods isn't out of the rough -- far from it. Amid rumors of his affairs with numerous women, the golfer's mother-in-law was rushed to the hospital with stomach pains Tuesday morning. And at one point, the Florida Highway Patrol seemed to think his Nov. 27 accident involved drugs and/or alcohol.

Barbro Holmberg -- the mother of Woods's wife, Elin Nordegren -- was taken by ambulance to a hospital after someone called 911 about 2:35 a.m., the Associated Press reports. Holmberg, who lives in Sweden and was visiting her daughter in Windermere, Fla., was released from the hospital later Tuesday.

The health scare didn't quite eclipse the Monday release of a subpoena request, sent from the Florida Highway Patrol to the Osceola-Orange State Attorney's Office, asking for prosecutors' help in getting Woods's post-accident "medical blood results." The documents cite an unnamed witness as saying that Woods "consumed alcohol earlier in the day" and that he has prescriptions for the painkiller Vicodin and the insomnia drug Ambien.

That subpoena request was denied, citing "insufficient information" -- and the refusal had nothing to do with Woods's celebrity status, a State Attorney's Office rep told the Orlando Sentinel. It probably had more to do with a lack of probable cause: Neighbors who came to Woods's aid after the crash told state troopers Woods did not smell of alcohol and showed no evidence of being on drugs, the Sentinel reports.

Ultimately, the Florida Highway Patrol declined to file criminal charges. Woods was ticketed for careless driving, paid a $164 fine, received four points against his license -- and has not commented publicly since apologizing Dec. 2 for his "transgressions."

Elsewhere, Gatorade confirmed Tuesday that it will discontinue its Tiger Woods drink, called Tiger Focus. The PepsiCo brand said it made the decision before Woods's accident.

Lady, meet the Queen

What did Lady Gaga wear to meet Queen Elizabeth II? Why, a conservative Elizabethan-style gown made entirely of red latex, of course. (Positively demure, considering her often pantsless-with-clear-plastic-bubbles attire.) British media report that the queen "seemed delighted" when the two met backstage Monday night at the Royal Variety Performance in England, and that she even giggled when Gaga curtsied for her.

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