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An X17 source tells us Britney's former bodyguard Tony Barretto, tried to extort money from Brit just a couple months ago, not long after he was fired!

Barretto, who appeared in court yesterday as a potential witness testifying to Britney's alleged poor parenting skills, allegedly told Britney he'd go public with an allegedly fabricated story about Britney abusing or neglecting her children if she didn't pony up some dough.

As Britney felt confident in her parenting skills, she didn't take Barretto's threats seriously but it seems the big guy was intent on telling his 'story.'

But Tony's court appearance didn't have the effect Fox News is reporting it did. They say Britney was to temporarily lose custody of her two sons yesterday but no dice for Allred and her client (or for Kevin, for that matter). A report by the news outlet says Federline would get temporary custody of Sean and Jayden in a decision expected to be handed down on Monday. Today's Tuesday, what's next?!