May 13, 2005
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Michael Jackson's former attorney, Mark Geragos, arrived at the pop star's child molestation trial and was expected to testify in response to a defense subpoena.
It was unclear what Geragos would testify about. He represented Jackson while the star was under investigation but was let go in April 2004.
Judge Rodney S. Melville sternly issued a warning Thursday calling for Geragos to appear after an associate asked that Geragos be allowed to reschedule because he was working on another trial. Melville ordered Geragos to obey a defense subpoena and ordered that he be ready to take the stand Friday.
Another former Jackson attorney testified Thursday that Jackson aides diverted nearly $1 million dollars of the pop star's money. David LeGrand's testimony is part of the defense effort to show Jackson was not conspiring with his associates.
Prosecutors say Jackson's money problems and a damaging documentary prompted him to have his aides threaten and confine his accuser's family so they'd make a pro-Jackson video.
Jackson's attorneys also want to call to the stand a man who prosecutors declined to question under a grant of immunity because they believe he will contradict the state's contention that Jackson molested a boy.
In a motion released Thursday, defense lawyers said prosecutors met with Vincent Amen, a former employee of the singer and an unindicted alleged coconspirator in the case, in December 2003 and guaranteed him that his statements would not be used against him under a government grant of immunity.
But prosecutors abandoned the idea of calling Amen to the stand because his testimony did not support their case, the motion said.
"Much of what Mr. Amen told the government contradicted the statements of the (boy's) family," the motion said.
Defense lawyers say they plan to call Amen and asked Judge Rodney S. Melville to allow the prosecution's grant of immunity to stand even though Amen would be testifying for them.
Jackson is accused of molesting a boy in February or March 2003 and plying him with wine. He is also charged with conspiracy.
Amen is one of five Jackson associates alleged to have been involved in a conspiracy to hold his accuser's family captive to get them to do a video praising Jackson.
Also Thursday, a Las Vegas lawyer who worked for Jackson testified that men who took over Jackson's management diverted nearly $1 million of the pop star's money and he believed it was for their own benefit.
David LeGrand was called in a defense effort to portray Jackson as a victim of a conspiracy by his associates - the same men the prosecution claims he conspired with to hold his accuser's family captive. The defense has tried to show that there was no captivity conspiracy and that the associates' actions were for their own financial gain.
"I became suspicious of everybody," LeGrand said of Jackson's associates. "It seemed everybody wanted to benefit from Michael Jackson in one way or another."
LeGrand's account echoed earlier testimony from Jackson's ex-wife Deborah Rowe, who claimed her husband was a victim of "opportunistic vultures" in his inner circle.
LeGrand said he was brought in to straighten out a maze of transactions involving Jackson when he met Ronald Konitzer and Dieter Wiesner, two of the unindicted alleged coconspirators. But he said he was fired within two weeks of writing Konitzer a letter asking him to account for $965,000.
LeGrand said he discovered that they had the ability to divert Jackson's assets and thousands of dollars had been disbursed to them.
LeGrand also said he met the accuser's mother at Jackson's Neverland ranch at least once and she "seemed satisfied with being there." He said her children were running through the house "having a pretty good time."
On cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss elicited from LeGrand that at one point he offered the accuser's mother $25,000 to remain a party to a complaint made about the "Living With Michael Jackson" documentary to Britain's broadcast standards board.
LeGrand said the mother, who defense attorneys have portrayed as a con artist desperate for money, turned down the offer.