The mother of Michael Jackson's accuser committed fraud when she did not disclose on a welfare application that her family received money from a $152,000 lawsuit settlement 10 days earlier, a welfare

The mother of Michael Jackson's accuser committed fraud when she did not disclose on a welfare application that her family received money from a $152,000 lawsuit settlement 10 days earlier, a welfare official testified today (May 23) at Jackson's child molestation trial.

Jackson's lawyers, who are trying to portray the accuser's family as shakedown artists, also called an accountant to show that the family dined, shopped and ran up other expenses at a cost of $7,000 to Jackson during a week they were allegedly being held captive by the pop star.

Mercy Manriquez, an employee of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, testified that she handled the mother's Nov. 15, 2001, application for assistance. The application, signed by the accuser's mother, said that the woman had no other sources of income and no assets.

Manriquez testified that a person who willfully excludes sources of income from the forms is committing fraud. Before the mother testified in the trial, she invoked Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on the welfare issue and was not required to talk about it. However, Judge Rodney S. Melville allowed the defense to present records and testimony about it to jurors.

The jury was shown checks for $769 each in monthly payments that were deposited in the bank account of the woman's then-boyfriend, who is now her husband.

The accountant, Mike Radakovich, said he was hired by the defense to analyze records regarding the settlement of a lawsuit against J.C. Penney. The accuser's family had sued the department store chain, complaining they were beaten by security guards.

Radakovich said the total amount of the settlement was $152,000, of which portions went to the woman's three children, to her former husband and toward attorneys' fees.

The mother's share was $32,307, which was deposited into an account for the benefit of one of her sons, who then had cancer, Radakovich testified. That boy would later become Jackson's accuser. Within days, however, Radakovich said, most of the money had been withdrawn and was used to buy a cashier's check for $29,000 written to a Ford dealership.

The mother testified previously in the trial that she considered buying a car with the money but never did. There was no evidence that the check was ever cashed.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy in February or March 2003, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the family captive to get them to make a video rebutting a damaging TV documentary about Jackson.

The accounting testimony also showed bookkeeping entries for Jackson's Neverland Valley Entertainment Co., which picked up the bills for expenses during a period when the family was staying at a hotel in the San Fernando Valley.

Charges included clothes purchases from Banana Republic, Pacific Sunwear, Levi's and Anchor Blue. For one two-day period, the shopping total was $4,800, according to the records.


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