Accuser’s Mom Said to Defraud Welfare

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[b]Accuser’s Mom Said to Defraud Welfare[/b] By LINDA DEUTSCH, AP Special Correspondent SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The mother of Michael Jackson’s accuser committed fraud when she did not disclose on a welfare application that her family received funds from a $152,000 lawsuit settlement 10 days earlier, a welfare official testified Monday in Jackson’s child molestation trial. [b]Jackson’s defense, which seeks to show that the accuser’s family has a history moneymaking schemes, also called an accountant to show that the family dined, shopped and had other expenses at a cost of $7,000 to Jackson during a week they were allegedly being held captive.[/b] Mercy Manriquez, an employee of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, testified that she was the intake worker on the mother’s Nov. 15, 2001, application for assistance which said that the woman had no other sources of income and no assets. Manriquez testified that a person who willfully excludes sources of income from the forms that were signed by the accuser’s mother is guilty of fraud. “Would it be fraud to fail to disclose it at this point?” defense attorney Robert Sanger asked. “Yes it would be,” the witness said. Before the mother testified in the trial she invoked Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on the welfare issue and was not required to testify about it. However, Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville allowed the defense to present records and testimony about it to jurors. The records included a statement of facts filed on Nov. 15, 2001, and a second document filed on Oct. 23, 2002, which was identified as the woman’s “yearly affirmation” that her situation remained the same and she still needed welfare payments. Jurors also saw checks for $769 each in monthly payments which were deposited in the bank account of the woman’s then-boyfriend who is now her husband. The accountant, Mike Radakovich, said he was hired by the defense to analyze records submitted to him including a summary of the settlement of a lawsuit against J.C. Penney. Radakovich said the total amount of the settlement was $152,000, of which portions went to each of the woman’s three children, her former husband and to attorneys’ fees. [b]The mother’s share was $32,307, which was deposited into an account for the benefit of one of her sons, who then had cancer, Radakovich testified. That boy would later become Jackson’s accuser. Within days, however, Radakovich said, most of the money had been withdrawn and was used to buy a cashier’s check for $29,000 written to a Ford dealership. The mother testified previously in the trial that she considered buying a car with those funds but never did. [/b]There was no evidence that the check was ever cashed. Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss objected to the admission of all of the documents, suggesting their authenticity was insufficiently supported. The judge initially did not admit them as evidence but said the defense could show them to jurors and could use them in final arguments. Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy in February or March 2003, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the family captive to get them to make a video rebutting a damaging TV documentary, “Living With Michael Jackson,” which aired in the U.S. on Feb. 6, 2003. In the documentary, the boy held hands with Jackson and the pop star said he let children sleep in his bed but it was an innocent, non-sexual practice. [b]The accounting testimony also showed Quicken bookkeeping entries for Jackson’s Neverland Valley Entertainment Co., which picked up the bills for expenses during a period when the family was staying at a hotel in the San Fernando Valley. Purchases were made at a luggage store and for clothing from a Camarillo, Calif., shopping center. Charges included clothes from Banana Republic, Pacific Sunwear, Levi’s and Anchor Blue. For one two-day period the shopping total was $4,800, according to the records.[/b] In other testimony, one of Jackson’s former housekeepers testified that an alarm that sounds when anyone enters the pop star’s bedroom suite had the same volume during a test recorded this year as it did in previous years. Maria Gomez’s testimony was aimed at discrediting an account by the accuser’s brother, who testified he twice entered the two-story master bedroom suite at Neverland and while on the stairs inside the suite he saw Jackson molest his brother on the upstairs bed. The defense contends the events related by the brother never happened and seeks to show that the alarm would have alerted Jackson that someone was entering the suite. Gomez was questioned about a test conducted by a defense witness to measure the volume of the alarm, which is a chime similar to those at the doors of convenience stores. … Source:

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