Frederic Marc Schaffel has
filed a $3 million lawsuit against Michael Jackson, claiming
he was owed that amount for loans Jackson took from him, and for work
Jackson hired him to do, but was never paid for.
He charges Jackson
with escalating drug and alcohol use, irrational
spending sprees, and pitiable payoffs to Marlon Brando and Liz Taylor
in return for their public support for the entertainer.
Raymone Bain denied all the charges in the
suit. At press time, Taylor
's spokesman had no comment.
Since hardly a week goes by without someone suing
Jackson , why is Schaffel's suit
significant? Because it may signal how prosecutors plan to use some of
Jackson 's unindicted
co-conspirators at his criminal trial.
When Michael Jackson was indicted for child molestation in
April 2004, the grand jury added a charge of "conspiracy to commit
child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion."
The sealed indictment reportedly included the names of at
least five unindicted co-conspirators who allegedly assisted
Jackson in his quest to manage the
movements of the young boy making the molestation charges and his
Among the five unindicted co-defendants on the conspiracy
charge was Schaffel, a gay-porn producer whom dozens of former friends,
business associates, and lawsuits have claimed is a swindler.
Unindicted co-conspirators are a danger to any defendant,
because of what they may know and be able to testify about. But an
unindicted co-conspirator who also files a $3 million lawsuit against a
defendant often becomes a walking billboard, advertising himself to the
prosecutor as available to be "flipped."
It can be viewed as a fairly transparent extortion-like threat
to the defendant: "Pay up, or be assured I'll rat you out."
It's high-stakes poker.
Dozens of former business associates, friends, and former
roommates have told Court TV's investigative unit
that Schaffel is the most likely of the five
co-conspirators to "flip," because, they say, he has betrayed and
swindled almost every friend he ever had.
But my sources in Santa Barbara law
enforcement maintain they have plenty of evidence against
Jackson without the need to flip any of the unindicted co-conspirators,
because the would have to offer them immunity in exchange for testimony.
They indicate that the plan is: After convicting
Jackson and sending him to prison,
they will move to prosecute all five co-conspirators, and send them to
prison, too. They may even add the names of more conspirators to their
"must prosecute" list.
Frederic Marc Schaffel's lawsuit claims that his company,
Neverland Valley Entertainment (NVE), was set up at Michael Jackson's
request, and that Jackson
was a signatory on the company's bank account.
That was a question on the prosecutor's mind at one
time. Back on Feb. 18, district attorney Tom Sneddon got a
search warrant for files that would reveal who had access to the money
in the NVE business account.
Why did Sneddon think that was important? This Schaffel
lawsuit gives us clues.
Schaffel's suit seems to imply that NVE itself, and Schaffel's
personal loans, were partly motivated by a desire to get around
restrictions imposed on Jackson
by Bank of America (BOA).
BOA refinanced its $200 million line of credit loan to the
entertainer, and when it did so, it placed stringent conditions on
repayment. It's been widely reported that those restrictions require
Jackson to pay 50 percent of all
new income back to BOA to satisfy the loan, and, Schaffel's suit
maintains, also limits the kind of things
Jackson can spend money on.
Schaffel's suit appears to argue that NVE and the Schaffel
loans were turned into a secret piggybank in order to obscure income
from BOA, or at least allow Jackson
to spend as he pleased.
From various court documents and published reports, it appears
that the Prosecution believes NVE's bank account was a veritable slush
fund used to finance the alleged criminal conspiracy to keep the young
accuser's family under control.
There have been reports that two other unindicted
co-conspirators, Frank Tyson and Vincent Amen, accompanied Schaffel to
withdraw one million dollars in cash from the NVE account to be
delivered to Michael Jackson.
Was that the money prosecutors say was used to house the
family, move the family and relocate the family to another country?
The suit also maintains Michael Jackson made a lot more money
on the FOX/Home Movies rebuttal specials, produced by Schaffel, in the
aftermath of the February 2003 British documentary with Martin
It was widely reported that
Jackson got $5
million for the rebuttal videos. But, according to Schaffel's
suit, the actual figure, taking into account foreign rights, was
actually $13 million â€” $13 million for responding to the
storm of controversy that erupted after
Jackson steadfastly declared it is
perfectly acceptable for him to sleep with young boys.
Schaffel's suit claims that even after earning all that money,
paid him back for several high-end loans he extended to the pop
star â€” several hundreds of thousands of dollars for
extravagant shopping sprees.
- Schaffel claims he loaned cash to Jackson
so he could pay the late actor Marlon Brando $1 million to appear at Jackson's
30th Anniversary concerts in 2000 and 2001. It
was a way for Jackson
to give Brando a gift to pay his own overdue bills, Schaffel says.
- Schaffel alleges that he loaned $600,000 to Jackson
to buy jewelry for Elizabeth Taylor, in order to get her to sign a
release allowing Jackson
to use footage of her in his Home Movies special.
- In the aftermath of Sept. 11,
2001, Schaffel also claims, he loaned Jackson
requested in case he and his family needed to take shelter underground
- Schaffel claims even
Jackson 's mother, Katherine,
demanded a payment of $250,000 for family participation in the Home
Throughout the suit, Schaffel cites what he claims
were occasions of wild spending sprees by
Jackson , including overpaying his
makeup artist thousands of dollars a day.
The sprees "accelerated when
Jackson 's increasingly more
frequent excessive use of drugs and alcohol impelled him into
irrational demands for large amounts of money and extravagant