Jackson’s security chief joins defense lawyer’s team

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[b]Jackson’s security chief joins defense lawyer’s team[/b] 10/29/05 By SCOTT STEEPLETON NEWS-PRESS SENIOR WRITER Michael Jackson’s 15-year security chief has taken a job with a member of the defense team that buried the prosecution during the singer’s child molestation case earlier this year. But contrary to online tabloid reports that she’s part of a mass exodus over missed payroll at Neverland Valley Ranch, Violet Silva said she joined longtime friend Robert Sanger’s high-profile Santa Barbara criminal defense firm, Sanger & Swysen, to broaden her career. Ms. Silva told the News-Press: “I was presented with a tremendous opportunity and I took it. I left on very good terms. There are no bad feelings whatsoever.” Her new job as an investigator started about three weeks ago. Her exact duties will be up to her new boss. Mr. Sanger said he has the utmost respect for Ms. Silva, and he’s eager to work with her. “I feel fortunate to have been her friend for 13 years,” he said. The attorney is a leader in the movement to abolish the death penalty; he represented David Attias, who mowed down five people in his car, killing four, in Isla Vista; and convinced a judge that Santa Barbara County’s old jury pool system was unconstitutional. For trial watchers who saw Mr. Jackson’s Figueroa Mountain Road compound from the outside, Ms. Silva was one of a handful of employees who would drive up to the guardhouse, share a few words with, say, security or Neverland Valley Ranch Fire Department personnel, and then head up a winding road leading deep inside the 2,600-acre property. But Ms. Silva’s under-the-radar profile changed when her image was beamed around the world after she was called to testify in the child molestation trial. She told jurors the accuser and his family were sympathetic figures when they first arrived at the ranch. A year later, that sympathetic aura gave way to “pretty reckless” behavior on the part of the accuser and his brother, she testified. On cross-examination, Ms. Silva admitted that as a mother she would not want her children to be at Neverland. The prosecution’s case ultimately collapsed. Before and during the trial, reports swirled around missed payroll checks, a possible sale, then another and then another, and employees leaving in droves. If they are, said Ms. Silva, that’s not unlike any other business. “People are presented with opportunities, and if they’re better, they take them,” she said. “Sometimes it’s as simple as the price of gas.” As for the latest “exodus,” as reported by Fox.com’s Roger Friedman on Thursday, “I don’t know. I don’t ask,” said Ms. Silva. “As accurate as the information about me was stated — I am a 15-year employee, I did leave, and I am working for Bob Sanger — it was linked to other people leaving, and it hurt my feelings because it just wasn’t true.” Ms. Silva said that in the course of working at Neverland for so long, she grew close to many of the employees, from the people in the zoo to the “irrigation guys.” “The Neverland employees were my second family. I have great affection for the employees there. I describe them as courageous and loyal,” she said. That loyalty was tested during the five-month trial, which ended in June. “We were a strong group, but with the story of Mr. Jackson, of what he was being alleged of doing, it was difficult for the employees,” said Ms. Silva. “All the employees gave 100 percent all the time, and probably more than 100 percent during some very difficult times.” In the end, she said, “We all stuck together. “My leaving had nothing to do with the alleged problems Roger Friedman thinks are happening there, and there is no dissatisfaction,” she said. Ms. Silva said divulging too much borders on the personal, a place she doesn’t want to go. “I am just so amazed that anyone would have any interest in me whatsoever,” she said. “All I wanted to do was defend my position (at Neverland). I’m tired of people making up stories about who I am, what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. “I left Neverland feeling that every experience, whether it was positive or negative, was a successful experience for me.” Source: [url=http://news.newspress.com/topsports/102905jackson.htm]http://news.newspress.com/topsports/102905jackson.htm[/url]

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