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Files show rising alarm in Prince's circle as health failed

Some of Prince's closest confidants had grown increasingly alarmed about his health in the days before he died and tried to get him help as they realized he had an opioid addiction — yet none were able to give investigators the insight they needed to determine where the musician got the fentanyl that killed him, according to investigative documents released Thursday.

Just ahead of this weekend's two-year anniversary of Prince's death, prosecutors announced they would file no criminal charges in the case and the state investigation was closed.

"My focus was lasered in on trying to find out who provided that fentanyl, and we just don't know where he got it," said Carver County Attorney Mark Metz. "We may never know. ... It's pretty clear from the evidence that he did not know, and the people around him didn't know, that he was taking fentanyl."

Metz said Prince had suffered from pain for years and likely believed he was taking a common painkiller.

Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park studio compound on April 21, 2016. His death sparked a national outpouring of grief and prompted a joint investigation by Carver County and federal authorities.

An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin.

The investigative materials — including documents , photos and videos — were posted online Thursday afternoon. Several images show the music superstar's body on the floor of his Paisley Park estate, near an elevator. He is on his back, his head on the floor, eyes closed. His right hand is on his stomach and left arm on the floor.

The documents include interviews with Prince's inner circle. That included longtime friend and bodyguard Kirk Johnson, who told investigators that he had noticed Prince "looking just a little frail," but said he did not realize he had an opioid addiction until he passed out on a plane a week before he died.

"It started to all making sense though, just his behavior sometimes and change of mood and I'm like oh this is what, I think this is what's going on, that's why I took the initiative and said let's go to my doctor because you haven't been to the doctor, let's check it all out," Johnson said, according to a transcript of an interview with investigators.

Johnson said after that episode, Prince canceled some concerts as friends urged him to rest. Johnson also said that Prince "said he wanted to talk to somebody" about his addiction.

Johnson asked his own doctor, Michael Todd Schulenberg, to see Prince on April 7, 2016. Schulenberg told authorities he gave Prince an IV; authorities said he also prescribed Vitamin D and a nausea medication — under Johnson's name. Johnson then called Schulenberg on April 14, asking the doctor to prescribe a pain medication for Prince's hip. Schulenberg did so, again under Johnson's name, Metz said.

On the night of April 14 to April 15, Prince passed out on a flight home from Atlanta, and the private plane made an emergency stop in Moline, Illinois. The musician had to be revived with two doses of a drug that reverses effects of an opioid overdose.

A paramedic told a police detective that after the second shot of naloxone, Prince "took a large gasp and woke up," according to the investigative documents. He said Prince told paramedics, "I feel all fuzzy."

A nurse at the hospital where Prince was taken for monitoring told detectives that he refused routine overdose testing that would have included blood and urine tests. When asked what he had taken, he didn't say what it was, but that "someone gave it to him to relax." Other documents say Prince said he took one or two pills.

The documents show that Johnson contacted Schulenberg again on April 18, and expressed concern that Prince was struggling with opioids. At that time, Schulenberg told investigators, Johnson apologized for asking the doctor to prescribe the previous painkiller.

An assistant to Prince told investigators that he had been unusually quiet and sick with the flu in the days before he was found dead. Meron Bekure said she last saw Prince a day earlier, when she was going to take him to the doctor for a checkup but that Prince told her he would go with Johnson instead.

On that day, Schulenberg saw Prince and ran some tests and prescribed other medications to help him. A urinalysis came back positive for opioids. That same day, Paisley Park staffers contacted California addiction specialist Dr. Howard Kornfeld. The doctor sent his son, Andrew, to Minnesota that night, and the younger Kornfeld was among those who found Prince's body. Andrew Kornfeld was carrying buprenorphine, a medication that can be used to help treat opioid addiction.

Andrew Kornfeld told investigators that Prince was still warm to the touch when he was found, but that rigor mortis had begun to set in.

The documents also show that Prince's closest confidants knew he was a private person and tried to respect that, with Johnson saying: "That's what pisses me off cause it's like man, how did he hide this so well?"

Metz said some of Prince's friends might have enabled him as they tried to protect him.

"There is no doubt that the actions of individuals will be criticized, questioned and judged in the days and weeks to come," Metz said. "But suspicions and innuendo are categorically insufficient to support any criminal charges."

The U.S. attorney's office also said Thursday it had no credible evidence that would lead to federal criminal charges. A law enforcement official close to the investigation told The Associated Press that the federal investigation is now inactive unless new information emerges. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the federal case remains open.

But federal authorities announced that Schulenberg had agreed to pay $30,000 to settle a civil violation from the allegation that he illegally prescribed the opioid oxycodone for Prince in Johnson's name. Schulenberg admitted to no facts or liability in the settlement, which includes stricter monitoring of his prescribing practices, and authorities said he is not the target of a criminal investigation.

Oxycodone, the generic name for the active ingredient in OxyContin, was not listed as a cause of Prince's death. But it is part of a family of painkillers driving the nation's addiction and overdose epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 2 million Americans abused or were addicted to prescription opioids, including oxycodone, in 2014.

A confidential toxicology report obtained by the AP in March showed high concentrations of fentanyl in the singer's blood, liver and stomach. The concentration of fentanyl in Prince's blood alone was 67.8 micrograms per liter, which outside experts called "exceedingly high."

Prince did not have a prescription for fentanyl.

Metz said several pills were found at the Paisley Park complex after Prince died, and some were later determined to be counterfeit.

The underground market for counterfeit prescription pain pills is brisk and can be highly anonymous, said Carol Falkowski, CEO of Drug Abuse Dialogues, a Minnesota-based drug abuse training and consulting organization. Buyers often don't know who they're dealing with or what's in the drugs they purchase, she said.

The likelihood of people buying pain pills on the street or online that turn out to be counterfeits laced with fentanyl is "extremely high," said Traci Green, a Boston University Medical Center epidemiologist who focuses on the opioid epidemic.

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Associated Press writers Steve Karnowski and Doug Glass in Minneapolis, Ryan J. Foley in Des Moines, Iowa, and Tammy Webber in Chicago contributed this report.

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Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com . More of her work at: https://apnews.com/search/amy%20forliti .

Charges could be announced in Prince opioid investigation two years after his death

Authorities in Carver County, Minnesota, could announce charges Thursday in the investigation into the opioid-related death of legendary entertainer Prince two years after he died, according to news outlets.

>> Read more trending news 

Prince was found unresponsive at his Paisley Park home in Chanhassen on April 21, 2016, and was later pronounced dead.

An autopsy report by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office was released two months later and called Prince’s death “accidental.” The cause was listed as “fentanyl toxicity,” according to Entertainment Tonight, and the drug was “self-administered.”

According to news reports at the time, prescription drugs were found at the musician’s Paisley Park home and in his possession when he died.

Some of the bottles of prescription painkillers found at Paisley Park were in the name of a longtime friend of Prince and were prescribed by a doctor the “Purple Rain” singer saw before he died.

>> Related: Remembering Prince: 5 most memorable tributes

It’s unclear if anyone is facing charges at this point.

Carver County Attorney Mark Metz is holding a press conference Thursday at 11:30 a.m. to further discuss whether investigators are charging anyone in connection with the musician’s death.

Student of The Week Imani Skinner

Student of The Week Imani Skinner

Student of The Week Imani Skinner

Illusionist Copperfield takes stand in tourist injury case

David Copperfield testified Wednesday that he didn't know until he was sued that a British tourist claimed to have been seriously injured while taking part in an illusion during a performance on the Las Vegas Strip in 2013.

Although Copperfield said it might be his fault if an audience volunteer who was participating in an illusion got hurt, the celebrated magician didn't acknowledge responsibility for injuries Gavin Cox claims to have suffered when he fell.

"It depends on what happened. If I did something wrong, it would be my fault," Copperfield said during questioning by Cox's lawyer, Benedict Morelli.

"Your defense in this case is ... if they participate and someone gets hurt, it's their fault, not yours. Is that accurate?" Morelli asked. "Yes or no?"

"It's not a simple yes-or-no answer," Copperfield responded in a barely audible voice.

Morelli contends that before Cox fell, the group of audience volunteers participating in the illusion was hustled through an alley coated with what he called construction dust. The people were taking part in a signature illusion that appeared to make them vanish onstage and appear a few moments later in the back of the theater.

Copperfield said he didn't know whether there as a powdery residue near a trash bin in an MGM Grand alley. He said he passed through the same outdoor alley alone while performing another illusion about 10 minutes earlier, and didn't notice any debris.

"If in fact there was construction dust, could that be your fault if someone fell and got hurt?" Morelli asked.

Copperfield responded that he couldn't answer a hypothetical question before proceedings ended for the day.

The 61-year-old performer is due to return to the witness stand next Tuesday for more testimony in Clark County District Court.

Cox, a resident of Kent, England, claims lasting brain and body injuries and more than $400,000 in medical expenses. He and his wife, Minh-Hahn Cox, are seeking unspecified damages in their lawsuit, which also names as defendants the MGM Grand, show producer Backstage Employment and Referral, and construction firm Team Construction Management.

Copperfield's lawyers lost pretrial bids to close proceedings to the public to avoid disclosing performance secrets, although Judge Mark Denton has said some portions of Copperfield's testimony might still be conducted behind closed doors.

Ex-Playboy model settles lawsuit over alleged Trump affair

A former Playboy model who said she had a 10-month affair with President Donald Trump settled her lawsuit Wednesday with a supermarket tabloid over an agreement that prohibited her from discussing the relationship publicly.

Karen McDougal's settlement with the company that owns the National Enquirer "restores to me the rights to my life story and frees me from this contract that I was misled into signing nearly two years ago," she said in a statement Wednesday.

In August 2016, the tabloid's parent company, American Media Inc., paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story about the alleged relationship, but the story never ran.

Last month, McDougal filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles asking to invalidate the contract, which she said she was misled into signing. The suit alleged that the company didn't publish the story because AMI's owner, David Pecker, is "close personal friends" with Trump. It also charged that Trump's attorney, Michael Cohen, had inappropriately intervened and was secretly involved in discussions with AMI executives about the agreement.

Federal agents raided Cohen's office and residence last week seeking any information on payments made in 2016 to McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels, according to people familiar with the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly. Daniels has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. The search warrants also sought bank records, records on Cohen's dealings in the taxi industry and his communications with the Trump campaign, the people said.

Under the settlement agreement, McDougal can keep the $150,000 she was paid and AMI has the rights to up to $75,000 for any future profits from her story about the relationship. The company also retains the rights to photographs of McDougal that it already has, the settlement said.

AMI had argued McDougal had been allowed to speak about her relationship since 2016 and the contract gave the company discretion over whether to publish the story.

In an interview with CNN that aired last month, McDougal said Trump tried to pay her after their first sexual tryst at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2006. McDougal said she continued the relationship with Trump for about 10 months and broke it off in April 2007 because she felt guilty.

The White House has said Trump denies having an affair with McDougal. Trump married his current wife, Melania Trump, in 2005, and their son, Barron, was born in 2006.

"My goal from the beginning was to restore my rights and not to achieve any financial gain, and this settlement does exactly that," McDougal said. "I am relieved to be able to tell the truth about my story when asked, and I look forward to being able to return to my private life and focus on what matters to me."

Miss America pageant gets funding to stay in Atlantic City

New Jersey officials have approved $4.3 million in state subsidies to keep the 2019 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City.

The state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority approved the funding Tuesday after months of uncertainty over the pageant's future.

The Press of Atlantic City reports that the pageant's contract was under scrutiny after emails surfaced showing the Miss America CEO disparaging the appearance and intellect of former pageant winners.

Sam Haskell resigned as CEO in December 2017, along with other board members. The pageant is now led by former Fox News Channel anchor and 1998 Miss America Gretchen Carlson.

The chairman of the authority board of directors says officials were encouraged by the pageant's description of the 2019 competition as having a focus on women's empowerment.

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Information from: The Press of Atlantic City (N.J.), http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com

Tribeca opens with 'Gilda,' and De Niro comes out swinging

The 17th annual Tribeca Film Festival opened Wednesday with pugnacious political words from Robert De Niro and the tender opening-night premiere, "Love, Gilda," an intimate celebration of the beloved comedian and former "Saturday Night Live" star Gilda Radner.

Lisa D'Apolito's documentary opened the New York festival in a star-studded screening at New York's Beacon Theatre that drew generations of "SNL" cast members, including original member Laraine Newman and Tina Fey, who poignantly introduced the film. "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels, Chevy Chase and Billy Crystal also came to see D'Apolito's documentary, which closely follows Radner's meteoric rise, her struggles with eating disorders and depression and her tragically young death from cancer, through readings from Radner's personal diaries.

Speaking for herself and "SNL" cast mates Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Rachel Dratch, Fey said Radner — a frizzy-haired force of genuine and joyous comic spirit — made an indelible impression on their generation of female performers.

"She was so authentically herself and so regular, in so many ways," said Fey, breaking up. "She was who she was on the TV. We all saw that and were like: 'I want to do that, and it's possible.' It was an early example to me of how important representation is for everyone from every walk of life. Gilda was our equivalent of Michelle Obama."

It was the second time in a handful of years that Tribeca turned to its fellow New York institution, "SNL," for opening night. In 2015, the documentary "Live From New York!" kicked off the festival. And it also came just days after De Niro, who co-founded Tribeca with his producing partner Jane Rosenthal, appeared on "SNL" as Special Counsel Robert Mueller in a sketch. Wednesday on the "Today" show, De Niro said he would like to reprise the part.

"I hope there's a couple where I interrogate him then I arrest him and then I escort him to jail," De Niro said, referring to President Donald Trump.

De Niro has been among the most vocal and bluntest of Trump's critics, frequently excoriating the president. He has, for example, previously said he'd like to punch Trump in the face. As the curtain went up on the 17th Tribeca, De Niro couldn't help using the festival's megawatt spotlight to direct his considerable ire at Trump.

At a kickoff luncheon for press, De Niro referred to Trump as "our Lowlife-in-Chief" and rejected what he referred to as the president's narrow definition of America.

"The country has had a bad year, and you — the press — have taken a lot of hits," De Niro told the reporters in attendance. "America is being run by a madman who wouldn't recognize the truth if it came inside a bucket of his beloved Colonel Sanders Fried Chicken."

Festival organizers said this year's Tribeca has been programmed with some of De Niro's fighting spirit.

"In the face of this inhumanity, we stand definitely against the forces that are tearing our country apart from the inside," said Jane Rosenthal, also a founder of the festival. "We stand with Time's Up, Never Again and Black Lives Matter and underserved voices."

Some elements of this year's Tribeca, which runs through April 29, are pointedly political. The closing night selection is Liz Garbus' "The Fourth Estate," an upcoming Showtime documentary series that captures The New York Times reporting on Trump's first year in office. The Jay-Z produced series "Rest in Power: The Travyon Martin Story" documents the 2012 shooting of the 17-year-old in Florida.

The festival will also hold a daylong Time's Up event on April 28, featuring hours of conversations with the initiative advocating for gender equality. Of the festival's 99 features, 46 percent are directed by women, the most in Tribeca's history. Rosenthal has credited that percentage in part with the makeup of Tribeca Enterprises, which she said is 80 percent female.

Ahead of the premiere, D'Apolito — a first-time director — spoke of her deep admiration for he groundbreaking subject.

"Even in the darkest of times," said D'Apolito, "she could find the funny in it."

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Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Kristen Stewart, Ava DuVernay to serve on the Cannes jury

Kristen Stewart and Ava DuVernay will serve on the Cannes Film Festival jury that will choose this year's Palme d'Or winner, the French festival announced Wednesday.

The French film festival Wednesday announced the jury that will serve under Cate Blanchett. Also joining them are filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, French actress Lea Seydoux, Chinese actor Chang Chen, French director Robert Guediguian, Burundian singer Khadja Nin and Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev.

Thierry Fremaux, the festival's artistic director, recently said that Cannes is paying more attention to "the gender ratio" on selection committees. Blanchett's jury will feature five women and four men. Some have criticized Cannes for not selecting more films directed by women. This year, there are three movies by female filmmakers in competition for the Palme.

The 71st annual Cannes Film Festival runs May 8 through May 19.

Parkland students David and Lauren Hogg have book deal

Two students who survived the deadly mass shooting this year at a Florida high school have a book deal.

Siblings David and Lauren Hogg are working on "#NEVERAGAIN: A New Generation Draws the Line." Random House announced Wednesday that the book would come out June 5 and that the Hoggs were donating their proceeds to charity and community organizations.

The Hoggs and other students at the Parkland, Florida, school have become leading gun control advocates since the Feb. 14 tragedy that left 17 people dead.

Random House is calling the book "a moving portrait" of a new political movement. The publisher will make a donation to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization founded in 2014.

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