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Team Jackson goes on offensive

Geragos hires controversial Pavelic to dig up dirt on accuser. By Jeannette Walls.
/ Source: msnbc.com

Expect to see a smear campaign against Michael Jackson’s accusers. Defense attorney Mark Geragos has hired private investigator Zvonko “Bill” Pavelic to dig up the dirt on witnesses for the prosecution and a source who’s dealt with Pavelic says that things will most likely get ugly.

Pavelic, a former L.A.P.D. detective, worked with Geragos in the Scott Peterson murder trial. But he was also a crucial — and controversial — behind-the-scenes operator in the O.J. Simpson trial.

Pavelic, insiders believed, was key in discrediting Mark Fuhrman — who he knew because they had both worked as security guards for Johnny Carson. He was also accused of planting false evidence with the prosecution and was chided by Judge Lance Ito after it was revealed that he had secretly interviewed a defense witness. In that tape interview, it was charged, he coached Rosa Lopez, Simpon’s alibi witness.

Pavelic was a controversial figure even when he was with the L.A.P.D. The official reason for his retirement was disability — but he ran afoul of the department, accusing them of corruption and racism, while police officials accused him of being “bitter,” “paranoid” and “vengeful.”

“He’s very tough and very tenacious,” says a source who has battled Pavelic. “If he’s on a case, anyone making accusations against the defendant had better watch out.”

In the zone
Meanwhile, a Santa Barbara source says he’s thrilled that justice finally seems to be coming to Michael Jackson. For his zoning violations, that is.

The Jackson neighbor says that the pop superstar “seemed to have been given a free rein for years” to build whatever he wanted at Neverland Ranch — but for some reason, local officials have been cracking down on him lately.

“This is a place where you practically get hauled off to jail for building a picket fence that’s six inches above zoning regulations,” fumes Jackson’s angry neighbor. “But he managed to put up three ferris wheels without permission!” According to one report in a local paper, half of the 16 amusement rides at Neverland were built without proper permits.

“Only within the last couple of months has anybody been doing anything about it,” the neighbor tells the Scoop. “Maybe it was so they could snoop on other things going on. Who knows? But it proves that, in the end, no one is above the zoning laws!”

Notes from all over

And in non-Michael news: Russell Crowe continues his impersonation of a jerk. The “Master and Commander” star launched into an angry tirade against a waitress, she claims, after she offered Crowe a salmon appetizer at the premiere of his new film. “I was in a special VIP room and offered him a snack,” waitress Vanessa Boni told the London Sun. “But he said to me, ‘F—- off, with your f——— salmon.” . . . Hugh Grant also isn’t going to win any awards for chivalry. According to various reports, the “Love Actually” star told the German paper Netzeitung that he will settle down and start a family with his new sweetie, a U.N. worker, only if he is “utterly bored or drunk.” . . . Britney Spears was indignant after a reporter from the Daily Mail said that she “flirted” with Madonna on her latest video. Here’s Britney’s, like, response: “Honestly, there’s like some sort of energy thing between us. She’s like my godmother. I had this idea, like, I really like my new single and I said like, you know what, do you think Madonna would join me? And my people, they were, like, come on, Britney, you know. So I just said to her, maybe this is crazy, but would it be OK, like, and she said: ‘Yes.’ And I thought: ‘Ohmigod, Madonna’s on my song, right!’”

Jeannette Walls delivers the Scoop Monday through Thursday in MSNBC Entertainment.