FBI agents in Texas have seized recordings of threatening jailhouse phone calls made by Cristal Taylor, the ex-girlfriend of Dallas Mavericks All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki, to the player's attorney, two sources with knowledge of the investigation said.
The sources told ESPN that agents from the FBI's Beaumont field office last week obtained recordings of phone calls Taylor made from the Jefferson County Correctional Facility.
Taylor's prison phone calls allegedly contained threats as well as demands for money from Nowitzki, whom she has referred to in numerous media interviews as her former fiancé, and many of Taylor's phone calls were made to the offices of Nowitzki's Dallas-based attorney, the sources said.
Several media reports erroneously reported that the FBI was involved in Taylor's arrest in early May at Nowitzki's Dallas-area home. The FBI's involvement in the case did not occur until Taylor allegedly began making the threatening phone calls from prison, according to the sources.
The news of the FBI's involvement in the case comes on the same day that court documents have surfaced indicating Nowitzki is seeking sole custody of Taylor's unborn child, if it is proved that he is the father.
Neither Taylor nor her attorney could be reached for comment. Nowitzki and his attorney also could not be reached for comment. However, Nowitzki's father recently told the German newspaper Bunte that he felt his son was receiving pressure from Taylor.
"What comes over daily from America from this woman is almost like blackmail," Jörg Nowitzki said.
It is not clear if Nowitzki's father was referring to Taylor's prison phone calls when he made his comment to the German newspaper.
On June 12, Nowitzki's attorney filed a petition in Dallas County, Texas, requesting that genetic testing be conducted upon the birth of Taylor's child in order to determine paternity.
The petition for custody, filed by attorney Katherine Kinser, refers to Nowitzki and Taylor simply by their initials, "D.N." for Nowitzki and "C.T." for Taylor. Kinser could not be reached for comment.
"In the event that it is determined that [Nowitzki] is the biological father of child, the best interests of the child will be served by the appointment of [Nowitzki] as sole managing conservator," the petition says.
The Dallas Morning News reported Friday that this is not Taylor's first child-custody issue. The paper quoted one of Taylor's former housemates, Gerrick Fallon, who said Taylor gave birth to three other children who are now teenagers. Fallon told the newspaper Taylor did not raise any of the other three children, including the first one born in 1995, according to the newspaper.
Taylor was arrested on May 6 at Nowitzki's Dallas home on a warrant out of Jefferson County, Texas, for a theft of services charge. Taylor told The Dallas Morning News she learned of her pregnancy only after she was incarcerated in Dallas and administered a pregnancy test.
On Monday, Taylor was served with Nowitzki's petition for custody at the Jefferson County Correctional Facility, according to a report in the Beaumont Enterprise.
"We have to determine the best options, legally, to protect her rights and those rights of her unborn child,'' Taylor's attorney, Scott Renick, told the Enterprise. "Our only focus in this case is to ensure the laws of the state of Texas are complied with to protect any and all rights Taylor has in delivery [of the baby] and her rights as a mother," Renick told the newspaper.
Taylor is accused of failing to pay for $11,000 worth of dental work in December 2004. She was indicted on the charge in 2006. Authorities in two states have identified numerous aliases for Crista Ann Taylor, 37, with the most recent one being Crystal Taylor, the name she was using when she was arrested in Nowitzki's home. Taylor told The Dallas Morning News she hid her criminal record from Nowitzki.
Taylor's trial date has been set for July 27. She also faces a 2000 probation violation charge in Missouri. She is being held on a $50,000 bond.
Nowitzki, who on Friday turned 31, has mostly rebuffed questions about Taylor beyond acknowledging to reporters that he's "going through a tough time in my personal life." Amid the turmoil, Nowitzki averaged 34.4 points and 11.6 rebounds during the Mavericks' series with Denver and was named to the All-NBA first team.
In his last public comments on the subject on May 14 before returning to Germany, Nowitzki said: "It's been a tough two weeks, or however long it's been. That's really all I can say about it."
John Barr is a reporter for ESPN's Enterprise Unit. He can be reached through e-mail at email@example.com Information from ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein and The Associated Press was included in this story.