Mother of accuser in Jackson case to face welfare fraud trial

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Mother of accuser in Jackson case to face welfare fraud trial ROBERT JABLON Associated Press LOS ANGELES – The woman whose son claimed Michael Jackson molested him at Neverland ranch was ordered Friday to stand trial on felony charges that she stole $8,000 from the government through welfare fraud. The 37-year-old woman waived her right to a preliminary hearing during an appearance in Superior Court and was set for arraignment June 21 on a count of welfare fraud and four counts of perjury by falsely applying for welfare. She answered “yes” when asked by the prosecutor if she waived her rights. She was released without bail. The woman did not speak to reporters as she left and a call to her attorney seeking comment was not immediately returned. The Associated Press has withheld her name to protect the identity of her son because he has claimed to be a molestation victim. {MJEOL NOTE: Her name is Janet Arvizo , mother of Gavin Arvizo, the accuser in the Michael Jackson trial for which Jackson was acquitted.} Jackson was acquitted of the child molestation charges last year. Many jurors said a lack of credibility on the part of the woman and her children on the witness stand were major factors in their verdicts. During the trial in Santa Maria, she invoked Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on the welfare fraud issue and did not testify about it. Fans of the superstar want to throw the book at her if she is convicted in the welfare case, the prosecutor said. “I’ve had a lot of pressure from Michael Jackson fans to send her to jail,” James Baker said outside court, adding that he has received at least 15 phone calls and faxes. He said he has explained that prison usually is not the sentence in first-time welfare fraud cases involving small amounts of money and denied the woman was getting preferential treatment. “We try to treat everyone equally,” he said. Prosecutors claim the woman fraudulently collected $18,782 in welfare payments between November 2001 and March 2003, failing to disclose she received a $150,000 settlement of a lawsuit against a department store chain. However, the amount of the alleged fraud was dropped to $8,000 because the government received money back in the form of child welfare payments made by the father of her son, Baker said. While each charge is punishable by up to three or four years in prison, Baker said if the woman was convicted it would be her first offense and she probably would be sentenced to three years of probation and repayment of the money. He also said plea agreement negotiations with her attorney continued. Source:

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