FROM CAMEOS TO CRIME

Star­let ac­cused of Rs 20 crore fraud is picked up from a posh Delhi farm­house, lay­ing bare a sor­did his­tory of cheat­ing

India Today - - CRIME - By S. Senthil Kumar J. Binduraj Chen­nai Kochi

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Lin in eena Maria Paul grad­u­ated quickly from roam­ing around in a Maruti 800 beg­ging for bit roles in movies to hav­ing a Rolls- Royce Phan­tom parked in the drive­way of her Rs 4- lakh- a- month, plush South Delhi farm­house. But the 25- year- old star­let’s dream run was cut abruptly on May 28 when a joint team of Delhi and Chen­nai po­lice came knock­ing even as her con­man beau fled in a Toy­ota Land Cruiser.

The ac­tor, who claims she was born in Thris­sur, Ker­ala, and grew up in Dubai, was ar­rested for forgery, im­per­son­ation and cheat­ing in Tamil Nadu and Ker­ala to the tune of Rs 20 crore, charges she shares with her live- in part­ner Balaji aka Shankar Reddy aka Chan­drasekhar.

It took Chen­nai po­lice sev­eral days of track­ing their cell­phones un­til they fi­nally swooped down on the Delhi farm­house. Nine lux­ury cars were stretched out on the drive­way, in­clud­ing the Phan­tom, an Audi, a BMW and a Range Rover, and 81 lux­ury wrist­watches stashed in­side the home. The po­lice sus­pect Balaji had stolen at least some of th­ese for his part­ner of two years who will soon be seen play­ing an LTTE mil­i­tant in Shoo­jit Sir­car’s yet- to- be- re­leased po­lit­i­cal thriller Madras Café with John Abra­ham in the lead.

Leena has acted in a few Malay­alam movies, among them the Mo­han­lal- star­rer Red Chill­ies helmed by Shaji Kailas, in which she was one of the girls in a mu­sic band, and the Mam­moot­tys­tar­rer Co­bra di­rected by Lal in which she ap­peared in a cou­ple of scenes. She had a role in Saji Suren­dran’s Hus­bands in Goa as well. Now though, no one in south­ern moviedom claims to know or even re­mem­ber her. Her part­ner’s iden­tity re­mains a mys­tery.

Leena’s trou­bles be­gan af­ter Sky­lark Tex­tiles and Out­fit­ters, a Chen­nai tex­tiles firm, com­plained to the po­lice that the star­let and her part­ner had de­frauded it of Rs 74 lakh.

“They took the money at a posh of­fice in Mum­bai they claimed to be their own,’’ says an of­fi­cer with Chen­nai po­lice crime branch. The com­pany was

RAMESH SHARMA/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

( LEFT) LEENA MARIA PAUL; THE DRIVEWAYOFTHE FARM­HOUSE IN DELHI FROM WHERE SHE WAS PICKED UP

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