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Travel writer tells newspaper he plagiarized, dealt drugs

  • Story Highlights
  • Author tells paper he got data for Colombia guidebook "from a chick I was dating"
  • Author's works include guides on Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, paper reports
  • Lonely Planet tells paper it wants to ensure "this type of thing never happens again"
  • "Urgent" review of author's books reveals no inaccuracies, publisher tells paper
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(CNN) -- A Lonely Planet author says he plagiarized or made up portions of the popular travel guidebooks and dealt drugs to supplement poor pay, an Australian newspaper reported Sunday.

Lonely Planet publishes more than 500 titles and employs 300 authors, according to its Web site.

Thomas Kohnstamm, who has written a book on his misadventures, also said he didn't travel to Colombia to write the guidebook on the country because "they didn't pay me enough," The Daily Telegraph reported.

"I wrote the book in San Francisco [California]," he is quoted as saying in the Telegraph. "I got the information from a chick I was dating -- an intern in the Colombian Consulate."

The 32-year-old Seattle, Washington, native also claims he accepted free travel, which is a violation of the company's policy.

Kohnstamm has worked on more than a dozen books for Lonely Planet, including its titles on Brazil, Colombia, the Caribbean, Venezuela, Chile and South America.

An e-mail from Lonely Planet said Kohnstamm's book were being reviewed, the newspaper reported.

"If we find that the content has been compromised, we'll take urgent steps to fix it. Once we've got things right for travelers as quickly as we can, we'll look at what we do and how we do it to ensure as best we can that this type of thing never happens again," the e-mail said, according to the newspaper.

The book's publisher, Piers Pickard, told the paper that an "urgent" review of Kohnstamm's books did not reveal any inaccuracies.

The Lonely Planet series publishes 500 titles, updated every two to four years, and employs 300 authors, according to the company's Web site. It sells more than 6 million guides a year, the newspaper reported.

Kohnstamm's book, "Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?: A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics and Professional Hedonism," is set for release next week.

On his MySpace page, Kohnstamm says the book "is about the decision to abandon Manhattan to try to make it as a travel writer and the good, the bad and the really surreal that I experienced on the road." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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