Lowe to Sheriffs -- Stay Away, Outsiders

4/8/2008 1:07 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
OK, the story is now getting weird. We're told the Santa Barbara County Sheriff contacted Rob Lowe to offer help in the alleged extortion plot by an ex-employee, but Rob declined the offer.

Lowe sued three ex-workers, including one whom he alleges demanded $1.5 million in hush money -- or else she'd spread what he called "malicious lies." Law enforcement sources tell us detectives called Lowe yesterday to say they heard the reports and offered to launch a criminal investigation. We're told Rob passed, saying, "Your involvement isn't necessary. We're going to handle the matter civilly."

That's kinda strange, because extortion is a crime. Why not nail the person who's trying to screw you? We're just sayin'....