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$1.5 million cashed outof Jackson's account

Witness: Associates made dozens of phone calls during weeks surround documentary
/ Source: The Associated Press

During the weeks surrounding the broadcast of a damaging documentary about Michael Jackson, his associates apparently made dozens of phone calls to each other, prosecutors showed Monday in the pop star’s child molestation and conspiracy trial.

The phone records and unexplained testimony about one associate cashing two huge checks on an account shared with Jackson were offered as the prosecution neared the end of its case.

The jury was not told how the calls support the case, but prosecutors are expected to say in final arguments that they show frantic activity in an effort to stem the damage caused by the “Living With Michael Jackson” documentary.

None of the calls were traceable to Jackson, 46, who is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy at his Neverland ranch, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy’s family captive to rebut the documentary, in which the singer said he shared his bed with children.

Prosecutor Mag Nicola spent hours showing jurors charts of calls, primarily between the phones of three men named as unindicted co-conspirators, the mother of the boy who was allegedly molested, and an assortment of Jackson employees and lawyers.

The first series of calls occurred during a trip to Miami by Jackson, his entourage, the accuser and the boy’s family. Prosecutors showed calls to and from the presidential suite at the Miami resort where Jackson stayed.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Robert Sanger asked sheriff’s Detective Robert Bonner whether there was any way to determine if Jackson took part in the calls. Bonner said there was not.

In other testimony, a bank manager testified that in April 2003, Marc Schaffel, who has been identified as an unindicted co-conspirator, cashed checks for $1 million and $500,000 on an account for which he and Jackson were the only signatories.

Schaffel’s name has surfaced repeatedly in connection with efforts to contain damage from the documentary. But Schaffel has claimed that he had extensive financial dealings with Jackson and that the pop star owes him more than $3 million in loans and producing fees.