[b]Mom of Michael Jackson’s accuser charged with fraud[/b] By Dan Whitcomb 2 minutes ago LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The mother of the teenage boy who accused Michael Jackson of sex abuse was charged with welfare fraud on Tuesday by prosecutors who say she lied about her finances when she applied for public assistance.
The woman, who was called a con artist and a welfare cheat by Jackson’s attorneys as they successfully defended the pop star at his child molestation trial this summer, faces arrest if she fails to surrender by September 7, prosecutors said. [b]”These charges are the result of a very careful investigation of allegations that she basically lied to receive aid,” Los Angeles District Attorney’s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said. “We felt the evidence was sufficient to file these counts.[/b] The charges stem from information the mother provided to welfare officials and not her testimony at the Jackson trial, which ended when the 46-year-old entertainer was cleared by a jury in June. Prosecutors say the mother, whose name has been withheld by most U.S. news organizations to protect her son’s identity, defrauded the welfare system out some $18,000. [b]She could face more than five years in prison if she is convicted.[/b] Her civil attorney, William Dickerman, said he could not comment on the criminal charges and did not know if she had retained another lawyer. She was called to the witness stand in the Jackson case by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon but refused to testify about her finances or welfare applications on the grounds that doing so could incriminate her. [b]Jackson’s lead defense attorney, Tom Mesereau said Jackson had been informed of the charges. “I have always maintained that the case against Michael Jackson was a fraud and a disgrace and these charges confirm that,” Mesereau told Reuters. “We brought this information to District Attorney Sneddon early on in the case hoping that he would dismiss the charges against Michael Jackson,” he said. “Unfortunately he was stubborn and denied our request.” [/b] According to court documents the investigation was prompted by a tip from a private investigator in February 2005, after jury selection began in the Jackson trial. But Gibbons said her office did not pursue the case because of the Jackson case. “We have a whole division devoted to filing these types of cases,” Gibbons said. “(Someone) may say $18,000 is not a lot of money, but this is the taxpayers’ money and it’s supposed to go to people who can’t afford to care for themselves or their children.” Source: [url=http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050823/en_nm/crime_jackson_dc_2;_ylt=AibEL64KmyYLGh8oZDNbGKaZGA4B;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl]Yahoo! News[/url]