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on Neverland

Associate Marc Schaffel claimed he was owed $3 million
/ Source: The Associated Press

A judge in a civil lawsuit against Michael Jackson on Thursday denied a request to place a lien on the singer’s Neverland Ranch that would help guarantee the payment of millions of dollars he allegedly owes, an attorney said.

F. Marc Schaffel, a former producer and business associate of Jackson — and an unindicted alleged co-conspirator in Jackson’s child molestation trial — sued the singer in November on claims he hadn’t been paid for more than $3 million in loans and producing fees.

Schaffel wanted a lien put on the ranch until the conclusion of Jackson’s criminal trial.

During a closed hearing in Santa Monica, Judge Jacqueline A. Connor ruled that evidence was lacking in the lawsuit, but allowed evidence to be presented at a later time, said Schaffel’s attorney, Howard King.

Phone calls to Jackson attorney Brian Oxman were not immediately returned.

The breach-of-contract lawsuit recounts numerous loans to Jackson and payments made on his behalf, including claims the singer failed to fully pay Schaffel for producing two television specials.

The specials, which aired on Fox in 2003, were designed to counter a damaging portrayal of Jackson in televised interviews with British journalist Martin Bashir.

Lavish spendingSchaffel claims Jackson still owes him $800,000 for producing the television specials, according to the lawsuit. He also claims he made payments or loans for the singer totaling $8.6 million since 2001 but has only gotten back $6.3 million.

The lawsuit details Jackson’s lavish spending habits, including a request for $600,000 to buy jewelry for Elizabeth Taylor and $1 million for the late Marlon Brando for appearing in the singer’s concert and his music video.

On another occasion, Jackson asked for and received $500,000 following the Sept. 11 terror attacks “in case he needed to take shelter underground somewhere with his family,” the lawsuit said.

In a related mater, the 2nd District Court of Appeal put Connor on notice after she closed the courtroom to attorneys for media organizations without a formal explanation. Five television networks and USA Today had requested the courtroom be open to the public.

Media attorney Michael H. Dore said court procedure requires a judge to either hold a hearing on the matter or issue findings before closing a courtroom.