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The Gallery of Michael Jackson’s Business Advisors. INVESTIGATIVE REPORT

November 17, 2013

UPDATED NOVEMBER  20, 2013

Today I’ve learned the shocking news that TeamMichaelJackson website has been suspended. Everyone knows my difference of opinion with them over the Estate, and if the Estate has to do with it, all I can say is that this is not right.

I firmly believe in freedom of speech and the need to allow others to carry on even if they don’t see eye to eye with you.

The admin of TeamMJ is now in hospital and this makes things even worse. I myself was recently in a similar situation and know what a terrible blow it is to find your blog closed when you are so helpless an invalid.

Rumor has it that this temporary suspension may be due to a complaint about collecting money for the transcripts which under certain circumstances may be considered commercial use of a website carrying Michael Jackson’s name, but in this case I should even partake of the guilt as I was the one who encouraged to collect donations to buy more transcripts –  so in a way I let them down. And it was definitely not for commercial use. All of us can testify to that.

If this suspension is due to using Michael’s image then a million other blogs should be closed too because all MJ’s fan blogs are full of his pictures.

And if it is due to all the criticism I think it should be stoically tolerated or answered with information proving the errors of the opponent, and not by silencing him or her which only makes the matter worse.

I see it as a grave mistake and injustice and hope it will be corrected. Otherwise there will be no point in writing a follow-up to this post which was supposed to show how big a difference John Branca is making in comparison with all others around Michael.

NOVEMBER 17, 2013

If you leaf through Dieter Wiesner’s book and Joe Jackson’s “Objections to appointing John Branca and John McClain Executors of MJ’s Estate” you will get one side of the story which will be currently pleasing to the eye of many Michael Jackson’s fans.

But if you want to know the truth about who was who among Michael’s business advisors in the period of 2003-2004 you will have to read the documents attached to Joe Jackson’s objections, the testimonies of LeGrand and Ann Kite at the 2005 trial, a couple of books and a dozen other things –  and read all of it carefully.

In contrast to many others who have made up their minds forever after about a little fraction of truth they have scraped in some corners I prefer the whole truth, and that is why I embarked on a long voyage which took me to completely new and extremely surprising waters. 

This post will cover only part of a pile of information collected and it will be about several Michael’s managers some of whom directly contributed to Michael’s huge debt. The puzzle is complex but the key to it is found in LeGrand’s testimony at the 2005 trial, so I will be referring to it throughout several posts that will have to be made about this subject.

As you understand all of it was triggered off by the on-going campaign against Branca which I see as nothing else but a witch-hunt against the person who absolutely doesn’t deserve it. Someone wants to make him out as Villain number 1 while there was actually a hundred other people around Michael Jackson who can be easily nominated for this title.

What makes it even worse is that some of these nominees are big friends of Michael Jackson’s family (at least Joe Jackson) while the person whose honesty I absolutely do not doubt is considered by them their worst enemy.

But let us start with David LeGrand’s testimony first.

LEGRAND’S TESTIMONY

David LeGrand was hired as Michael Jackson’s main lawyer in the last week of January 2003.

Page 8 of the Interfor report. And who are all previous pages about?

Page 8 of the Interfor report on John Branca. And who are the previous pages about?

He dealt with a lot of Michael’s business and legal advisors, investigated their activities and as a result came up with the so-called Interfor report which is known to everyone by page 8 on John Branca circulating in the Internet.

All the other pages are missing and why they are missing – while Branca’s page is all over the web – is one of those questions which anyone interested in the whole truth should ask oneself first and foremost.

However despite all those investigations LeGrand says that the immediate reason for his hiring was the need to do coordination work to stop Bashir’s film from being aired.

Michael wanted his life to be shown as he knew it, but even before the film was shown rumor had it that it was heavily edited, contained innuendoes in the voiceovers and was turned into the opposite of what Michael expected of it.

Michael didn’t ask for money but was promised a big donation to a charity and thought he had the right to approve the film.

When LeGrand took charge of the job he found that though Bashir hoodwinked Michael (Thomas Mesereau’s expression) very little could be done to mend the situation. Michael had been so trustful of Bashir that he had only a one-paragraph contract with him which left Michael’s lawyers no room for action.

The old team of lawyers said that they were unable to stop the film from airing and this must have been a point of great disappointment and frustration for Michael.

LeGrand coordinated the work of several teams of lawyers, approached the British Broadcasting Board and negotiated Take 2 with Fox TV which was to include the outtakes from Bashir’s film, but despite all effort the most he could do was filing a lawsuit against Granada which was put on hold when charges were made against MJ later the same year and having a concession from Granada to blur the faces of Michael’s children as this was one of Michael’s gravest concerns.

LeGrand said about the initial focus of his work:

20 A. The initial focus was to assemble a group of

21 lawyers to respond to the pending presentation of

22 the Martin Bashir video in the UK. I spoke to a

23 number of different lawyers, including partners in

24 my firm, and within, oh, a day or two, we — I had

25 Mr. Jackson on a teleconference with lawyers in the

26 United Kingdom, as well as the United States, to

27 discuss the possibilities of responding to the

28 pending production in the UK by Martin Bashir and                             [9979]

1 Granada.

2 Q. What was the concern about the Bashir

3 documentary, as far as you were concerned?

4 A. That no one, from Mr. Jackson’s perspective,

5 had been given the opportunity to review the final

6 edited production work. That was a concern. We had

7 no idea what was going to be presented in the UK.

8 There were clips that were being broadcast as

9 promotion, but the substance of the program was an

10 unknown.

19 THE WITNESS: The two documents reflecting

20 Mr. Jackson’s agreement with Granada were terrible

21 contracts. They were vague. They lacked, you know,

22 precision, detail. There were numerous provisions

23 that simply were not addressed. They were very

24 simple, you know, one-paragraph documents.

25 Q.  Did you ever determine who

26 had drafted those documents?

27 A. I believe Martin Bashir drafted them.

11 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Did he ever indicate that to you, that he

12 perceived that this production was going to portray

13 him in a positive light?

16 … Mr. Bashir was to

17 produce a documentary reflective of Mr. Jackson’s

18 life as Mr. Jackson knew it.

19 Mr. Jackson’s statement to me was that he

20 felt very comfortable with Martin Bashir during the

21 production of the — you know, the various filmings,

22 and that he expected Mr. Bashir to honor Mr.

23 Bashir’s agreement to allow Mr. Jackson to review

24 the final footage and have some input to the final

25 footage.

26 We, the various lawyers, asked Mr. Jackson

27 several times to explain what he meant by, you know,

28 “faithful to his life as he knew it,” and Mr.                                     [10072]

1 Jackson didn’t use the word “positive.” He expected

2 accuracy, sincerity in this documentary.

6 Mr. Jackson did not seek compensation for the

7 production. But he did expect a significant

8 donation to a charity.

9 Q. So basically Mr. Jackson worked with Mr.

10 Bashir for free, right?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. And Mr. Bashir and his company were standing

13 to make millions on this show, true?

14 A. To the best of my knowledge, yes.

19 Q. And was Mr. Jackson concerned about the

20 fallout in a public relations sense from the Martin

21 Bashir film?

22 A. I don’t recall Mr. Jackson making a specific

23 statement about being concerned about the fallout

24 from the Bashir film. He seemed very concerned

25 about the — blurring the images of his children, of

26 wanting to enforce his agreement with Mr. Bashir to

27 edit — to screen the video and edit the video

28 before it was aired.

24 He was concerned about their visual image

25 being shown worldwide without, you know, blurring or

26 some other technique to obscure their faces.

27 Q. Do you know why?

28 A. Well, he’s concerned about their safety and                           [9993]

1 security.

1 They agreed to veil the

2 faces of the children, to do some blurring in the

3 airing of the video to protect Mr. Jackson’s family.

4 So there were concessions made by Granada. Their

5 basic position was they owned the copyright and they

6 had the unequivocal right to produce the production

7 without any input or editing from Mr. Jackson.

8 Q. And without paying Mr. Jackson a penny,

9 right?

10 A. Correct.

12 He did confirm to me that he did

13 not expect money from — you know, payment for the

14 production; that he had agreed to do that without a

15 fee.

15 Q. The overall thrust of the case was that

16 Bashir had completely hoodwinked Mr. Jackson, right?

17 MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Objection; argumentative.

18 THE COURT: Sustained.

Of course Bashir took advantage of Michael’s trust and completely hoodwinked him. I can’t imagine who will watch Bashir’s programs for information now if they know that all they will get will be inaccuracy, lies and dirty thinking of a complete crook.

THE SECOND TASK

LeGrand says that the second task he was hired for was to terminate Michael Jackson’s old advisors, form a new team and ‘bring fresh blood into his representation’.

When LeGrand stepped into Michael’s business it was taken care of by at least 50 people in his employment. Trudy Green was Michael’s manager and Howard Kaufman a merchandising director. The financial matters were handled by Barry Siegel of Provident Financial Management .The Ziffren firm and Branca were the primary music counsel, and two more law firms – Lavely Singer and Katten Muchin dealt mostly with litigation matters.

Paul Hastings firm and some other British lawyers were the new people employed by LeGrand to try and stop Bashir’s film and Mark Geragos was hired by Mr. Konitzer as Michael’s criminal attorney.  Konitzer and Wiesner were sort of Michael’s business advisors who later directed the new team.

12 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: To your knowledge, while

13 you were representing Mr. Jackson, how many law

14 firms were involved in his affairs?

15 A. Well, the Katten Muchin firm was providing

16 representation in a couple pieces of litigation.

17 The Ziffren firm, John Branca in particular, was the

18 primary music counsel. Lavely Singer was providing

19 representation on a variety of matters, mostly

20 litigation-related. There was my firm. There was

21 Paul Hastings law firm. There was Mark Geragos.

22 There was the solicitors in the United Kingdom, the

23 barrister in the United Kingdom.

24 I know I’m missing somebody.

25 Oh, and I had another law firm in Las Vegas

26 that was assisting on copyright work as well.

Besides the disaster of Bashir’s film Michael’s lawyers were also handling two primary lawsuits connected with concert promoter Marcel Avram and Michael’s former business advisor Myung Ho Lee. LeGrand said about them:

21 The two primary lawsuits that were

22 pending that I had knowledge of early on were the

23 Avram case and the Myung Ho Lee case.

26 Q. Who is Marcel Avram? You just mentioned

27 that. Who is that?

3 What I’ve read is that he was

4 a promoter who had entered into some agreements

5 with — and I’m not sure who with, but with Mr.

6 Jackson or entities affiliated with Mr. Jackson.

7 I’m not even sure who the parties were in that

8 litigation.

9 Q. BY MR. AUCHINCLOSS: And that was a

10 multimillion-dollar lawsuit?

11 A. Yes.

MARCEL AVRAM and MYUNG HO LEE

Marcel Avram was suing Michael Jackson for the third time. The first was a $40 mln suit after Michael cancelled 19 concerts out of 42 in the Dangerous tour (settled by MJ out of court). The second one for $20 mln was because Michael allegedly broke his promise to have Avram promote his next world tour and ‘shopped around’ for someone else.

And this time Avram filed a $21 million lawsuit after Michael gave two benefit concerts in June 1999 but did not do the millennium concerts scheduled for December 31, 1999. The second of the concerts taking place in Munich on June 1 ended in Michael’s back injury due to a terrible fall of the bridge he was standing on while singing the Earth Song.

The injury was probably the primary reason why he couldn’t perform the two millennium concerts on New Year’s eve scheduled in Sydney and Honolulu for one and the same day. However the articles of the period do not mention the injury and for some reason all talk is about who called whom to cancel the concert.

Avram wanted $21 million for the two missed concerts (out of which $10 million were considered Avram’s lost earnings) however he himself was to pay Michael $15 million, so the difference was $6 million or so:

November 14, 2002

Avram contends that he was stuck with an $11-million debt and about $10 million in potential lost revenues when Jackson did not appear at concerts in Honolulu and Sydney, Australia. Avram said he became involved with Jackson again after he was asked to work out difficulties that had arisen with production of a charity concert Jackson was planning for Seoul.

In exchange for his help, he said, he persuaded Jackson to do a second charity concert in Germany and two millennium spectaculars scheduled for Dec. 31, 1999. For all that, Jackson would be paid $15 million. Although the charity concerts were performed, they lost money.

Called as a hostile witness by Avram’s lawyer, Louis “Skip” Miller, Jackson said it was the promoter who telephoned him to say the concerts were off, although he could not recall the date.

“I don’t think he was prepared,” Jackson said at one point. “He canceled it. I specifically remember the telephone call. He said, ‘We’re not going to do those shows on the millennium. It couldn’t work to fly from one time zone to another.’

Jackson’s lawyer, Zia Modabber, contends that it was Avram who backed out of the millennium concerts.

http://articles.latimes.com/2002/nov/14/local/me-whooo14

On March 14th 2003 the jury awarded Avram $5,3 million in compensation of his potential lost revenues:

March 14, 2003|From Associated Press

A Santa Maria jury decided Thursday that Michael Jackson owes a concert promoter $5.3 million for backing out of two concerts planned to celebrate the millennium on New Year’s Eve 1999.

The verdict came in a $21-million breach-of-contract lawsuit filed against the singer by German concert organizer Marcel Avram. Jackson’s attorneys said it was Avram who canceled the shows over concerns they would not be profitable.

The jury deliberated for nearly two weeks. Jackson testified on his behalf in November.

Avram said Jackson had agreed to perform two concerts on Dec. 31, 1999. He would have performed in Sydney, Australia, then flown across the international dateline to Honolulu for another concert, technically within the same calendar day.

Jackson’s attorney, Steve Cochran, did not immediately return a call.

http://articles.latimes.com/2003/mar/14

Frank Cascio says that he was present when Michael received the call cancelling the concerts. To our surprise we learn that the call was from Myung Ho Lee, Michael’s other business associate. However soon the confusion is clarified as it turns out that besides Avram the concerts were brokered by Michael’s business advisors Myung Ho Lee and Wayne Nagin (previously his chief of security).

Frank Cascio who was Michael’s assistant at that time says:

THE MILLENNIUM HAD AN INAUSPICIOUS START. We were supposed to go to Australia, where Michael would do a New Year’s show, then immediately fly straight to Hawaii to ring in the new year at another show, maximizing the twenty-hour time difference in order to do two shows in one night. The two-show concert was brokered by Marcel Avram, a concert promoter, along with Myung-Ho Lee and Wayne Nagin, Michael’s business advisers.

I was in Michael’s room at Neverland when Myung- Ho Lee called to tell Michael that the shows had been canceled. I never knew whether it was Michael or Avram who called them off—later, in court, each would contend that it was the other—but when Michael took the call, he seemed both happy that he would now be able to spend Christmas with his kids and the family and a bit regretful to be letting down his fans.

…Avram was out of pocket again, and so, not surprisingly, he sued Michael for millions of dollars, blaming him for the millennium concert cancellations, as well as for the resulting damages.

Myung Ho Lee was the second person who was suing Michael in 2003 but his lawsuit was for a different reason – he was claiming $13 million in unpaid fees.

Evidently to bolster his case and persuade Michael to settle, Myung Ho Lee was telling Maureen Orth of the Vanity Fair stories about Michael putting a curse on Steven Spilberg in a voodoo blood bath ritual and seducing at least one Japanese boy by treating him to a Cola can filled with wine (the boy, Richard Matsuura was outraged by these lies and said that Jackson had never acted inappropriately around him).

But even despite this hard pressure from Myung Ho Lee, Michael resisted his former advisor’s claims and said that he had never agreed to pay him the multi-million fee, had never signed the agreement submitted by Lee and the signature under that document was not his.

Frank Cascio testified to the same:

In his statement, Frank Tyson [Cascio] states: “I have known Mr. Jackson almost my entire life, and I am 21 years old. During just the past five years, I have seen Mr. Jackson sign his name, or seen his signature, no less than 100 times, and perhaps as many as 500 times, or more. The signature … does not appear to be that of Mr. Jackson.”

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2002/07/30/jacko-defense-was-his-signature-forged/

Nevertheless Myung Ho Lee did reach the desired goal. The way to do it were threats to disclose the details of MJ’s then financial situation which is why Michael agreed to settle the Lee case for an undisclosed sum.

It is at this point that we learn that Myung Ho Lee was actually the one who arranged for Michael several Bank of America loans:

February 19, 2003

Lee and his Union Finance and Investment Corporation sued Jackson last April, alleging that the entertainer had reneged on a September 2001 promise to pay him more than $US13 million in back wages. But Jackson, in court papers filed on December 20, denied he owed the money, claiming that someone had forged his name on an agreement to repay Lee for business advice.

“I did not sign this document,” stated an affidavit from Jackson, currently embroiled in yet another public battle, this time over a television interview in which he revealed that he shared beds with young boys.

According to the suit, Lee began working for Jackson in 1997, giving him business and career advice and arranging loans and setting up investments, after being introduced by another Korean businessman whom Jackson met following a failed charity concert in Seoul. Lee claimed in his suit that Jackson was a “ticking financial time bomb waiting to explode at any moment.”

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/02/19/1045330662547.html

THE LOANS 

The first loan arranged by Myung Ho Lee was for $90 mln and was taken in late 1996. Two years later Michael had to take one more loan – for  $140 in order to be able to repay the first (with around $50 left for him), and a year and a half later one more loan of $200 mln was taken to repay the $140mln (so this time approximately $60 mln remained).

All these figures were in the court papers filed by Myung Ho Lee and this is what he was threatening to disclose. The New York Times said about it:

Mr. Jackson came under the sway of an assorted rotation of new advisers who apparently convinced him to make heavy bets on risky investments that never panned out.

In late 1996, according to court papers, he met Myung Ho Lee, a Korean adviser who emerged as a central figure in the performer’s debt binge.

Documents indicate that by late 1998, Mr. Jackson had already taken out and depleted a $90 million bank loan and Mr. Lee arranged a new, $140 million loan from Bank of America that was collateralized by the Beatles catalog and used to pay off earlier debts.

Just several months later, the $140 million had evaporated and Mr. Jackson, fresh off of his divorce settlement with Lisa Marie Presley, obtained another $30 million line of credit from Bank of America. Mr. Lee said in court papers that in late 2000 he raised the original $140 million bank loan to $200 million, using part of that loan to pay down the $30 million credit line, which had been entirely tapped.

The same article says that it is difficult to say how much of the loaned money landed in Michael’s pockets.

A lot of it went into production costs of videos and recordings (an estimated $65 million), but the leading drain on Michael’s resources were the deals called by another Michael’s advisor Al Malnik “global kinds of computerized Marvel comic-book characters bigger than life” on which at least $50 million were squandered:

WHATEVER portion of those earnings actually ended up in Mr. Jackson’s wallet is also difficult to assess because it would have to account for hefty costs like recording and production expenses, taxes and the like that would have reduced income from his business endeavors.

…MR. JACKSON indulged in other pricey vanity projects, including what one adviser believes to be the most expensive — a 35-minute film called “Ghosts” that he co-wrote with the novelist Stephen King and shot in 1997 with Stan Winston, a special-effects whiz that cost well above $15 million. One person with direct knowledge of Mr. Jackson’s spending said that the star paid a substantial portion of as much as $65 million on video projects in the mid-90’s — outlays that contributed significantly to his financial problems.

The leading drain on Mr. Jackson’s ample resources may have been monumentally unwise investments that apparently produced equally colossal losses.

Mr. Malnik estimates that some of Mr. Jackson’s advisers squandered $50 million on deals that never panned out — what he describes as amusement-park ideas and “bizarre, global kinds of computerized Marvel comic-book characters bigger than life.”

Mr. Malnik said that he had loaned Mr. Jackson $7 million, part of which was used to settle various lawsuits related to deals gone awry.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/14/business/yourmoney/14michael.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

As Roger Friedman said in a nasty article which I am not even going to give a link to, all these investments were suggested by Michael’s business advisors. Many of them were terrible and ended only in legal fees and more lawsuits:

“Managers came and went with schemes, all of which wound up in lawsuits that cost more legal fees. He made terrible investments. Roll call: Hollywoodticket.com, Dieter Wiesner, Myung Ho Lee, Marcel Avram, Shumley Boteach”.

Frank Cascio’s book also says that Michael’s major problem with advisors was the viper’s nest of entrepreneurs who “talked up the benefits and played down the risks” of various projects they came up with.

The way I understand it these businessmen lured Michael into risky enterprises and when the projects failed, they exposed Michael to lawsuits from the investors involved while they themselves stayed aside keeping in their pockets the huge commissions and other money they made on those deals.

Frank Cascio says:

Though I didn’t have formal business training, I came face-to-face with the infrastructure of Michael’s organization. There were lawyers, managers, accountants, and publicists. And it wasn’t just one lawyer or one manager. It was a team of lawyers and a team of managers. They were all involved in every deal, and at times they had different agendas. For example, if Michael wanted to invest in a company, the managers wanted to make sure the deal wouldn’t take away from his music commitments, the PR people wanted it to serve his public image, and the lawyers wanted to make sure the deal didn’t conflict with his other legal obligations.

…as time passed, I realized not everyone had his best interests in mind. Michael wasn’t always given the complete picture. This was a problem of his own making: he only wanted to hear what he wanted to hear. His accountants and lawyers seemed dedicated. But some of his business associates, eager to profit, talked up the benefits and played down the risks.

.. by the end of 1999, I came to see his lack of trust as an essential survival mechanism. The more time I spent with him, the more I saw that in his world, skepticism was a necessary defense. The problems went far beyond the negligence I’d seen in his Neverland staff. He lived in a world where everyone wanted something from him. They reacted to his fame and success with envy and greed. This was true even among his closest associates. It was a viper’s nest.

There were times when Michael didn’t want to see or hear all of what I had to tell him about the corruption I suspected in members of his organization. He would say, “Frank, you just started here. You don’t know what you’re talking about. This is a different world.”

Getting Michael into some fantastic projects, drain him of his money and then withdraw as if it was none of their doing and even sue him for the services rendered seems to me the modus operandi of all those business advisors.

Dieter Wiesner was no exception – he worked for Michael since approximately 1997 plunging him into various unsuccessful projects and when he was ousted out of Michael’s life by the Nation of Islam leaders he sued Michael for $64million, alleging breach of contract and fraud, though the positive result of his business activity for Michael was actually zero.

DIETER WIESNER and RONALD KONITZER

The big chance for Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer came in January 2003 when Michael, evidently following their advice, fired his old team of his lawyers and accountants and appointed Wiesner and Konitzer as his new managers.

LeGrand was nominated by the new team to the position of Michael’s primary transactional attorney:

13 Q. And at the time you were representing Mr.

14 Jackson and companies associated with Mr. Jackson,

15 did you consider yourself his primary transactional

16 attorney?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. Why is that?

19 A. At the time I was engaged, part of the

20 conversation and plan was to basically bring in a

21 new team to represent Mr. Jackson. Part of that

22 process involved terminating some of the

23 representation of people that had been providing

24 legal service to him and bringing, you know, fresh

25 blood to the representation.

26 Q. And you mentioned January of 2003. Was that

27 the approximate time this activity was going on?

28 A. Well, that’s when it began. I mean, it —                                        [9978]

1 this process took time.

2 Q. So approximately January of 2003 efforts

3 were made to bring in a new team to represent Mr.

4 Jackson; is that what you’re saying?

5 A. Yes. A new set of lawyers, accountants and

6 professionals.

7 Q. Now, was this your idea?

8 A. No.

9 Q. Whose idea was it?

15 It was communicated to me by

16 both Mr. Konitzer and by Mr. Jackson.

LeGrand was the man of Konitzer’s choice. At the start of his career LeGrand worked as an assistant prosecutor specializing on financially-related crimes. Later he went into private practice, focused on corporate and transactional work and acquired extensive business experience.

At the time LeGrand joined Michael’s team he was with Hale Lane Peek Dennison and Howard law firm. This firm is known to us as the one that ordered the so-called Interfor investigation the results of which were submitted to LeGrand on April 15, 2003 (when he was already dismissed by Konitzer). 

LeGrand’s dismissal came three months after his hiring, but at the moment we are more interested in why did he was hired and not dismissed. The reason for hiring was that LeGrand had previously done some legal work for Konitzer’s company in Canada called “Hi-Tec America”. The company had nothing to do with music or entertainment but was involved in ‘developing a manufacturing building process’ as LeGrand said.

21 Q. BY MR.MESEREAU: What kind of cases were you prosecuting

22 in — when you had that job?

23 A. Securities fraud.

3 Q. You’re talking about prosecuting primarily

4 financial-related crimes, correct?

5 A. Yes.

9 Q. After you were a prosecutor prosecuting

Intefor report was made for LeGrand's firm, was presented to it after he was fired by Konitzer and covered ALL Michael's business associates at that time

Interfor report was made for LeGrand’s firm at the request of his partner Gibson and was presented to them already after LeGrand’s dismissal. It concerned ALL Michael’s business associates including Konitzer and Wiesner

10 financial-related crimes, what did you do next?

11 A. I entered private practice in 1982.

15 Q. When you were representing Michael Jackson,

16 were you associated with any law firm?

17 A. Yes. I was with the firm of Hale Lane Peek

18 Dennison and Howard in Las Vegas, Nevada.

25 Q. All right. And when you were representing

26 Mr. Jackson, was the work you did primarily

27 corporate and transactional work?

28 A. Yes.

1 Q. How did you begin to represent Mr. Jackson?

2 A. I was introduced to Mr. Jackson through a

3 gentleman named Ronald Konitzer.

4 Q. Had you known Mr. Konitzer for some time?

5 A. Yes.

6 Q. When did you meet Mr. Konitzer,

7 approximately?

8 A. I’m not sure. It was sometime in the early

9 to mid-1990s.

10 Q. And had you done any legal work for him?

11 A. Yes. I represented a company he was

12 associated with.

13 Q. And which company was that?

14 A. Hi-Tec America, I think was the name.

24 Q. And what is Hi-TecAmerica?

25 A. I don’t know what it is. A few years ago it

26 was a company Mr. Konitzer had that was involved in

27 developing a manufactured building process.

28 Q. And is that company based in Canada?                        [10062]

1 A. Yeah, Mr. Konitzer lives in Canada, and the

2 manufacturing company was in Canada, but Mr.

3 Konitzer was interested in developing business in

4 the United States when I first met him.

AUCHINCLOSS:

20 Q. Okay. Now, do you know how long Mr.

21 Jackson’s relationship with Dieter Weizner, how far

22 it preexisted your involvement with Michael Jackson?

23 A. No, I don’t. I mean, I don’t know when that

24 relationship began.

25 Q. What about Mr. Konitzer?

26 A. Mr. Konitzer told me that he met Mr. Jackson

27 through Mr. Weizner, and I believe that was in early

28 2002. But it could have been late ‘01, but it was              [10077]

1 that time frame. It was not, you know, back in the

2 1990s.

So Konitzer met Michael in late 2001 or early 2002 through Dieter Wiesner who had worked for Michael in an unknown capacity since approximately 1997. Both produced on me the impression of small-type entrepreneurs who are good for arranging dinners with celebrities or proposing a new perfume at the very most.

Wiesner with Joe Jackson promoting a line of Jackson perfume

Wiesner with Joe Jackson promoting a line of Jackson perfume

I’ve recently found a photo of Wiesner proudly sitting beside Joe Jackson who is evidently speaking about a new line of perfume called Jackson TRIBUTE, and read about him and Joe Jackson arranging somewhere in Asia a Jackson family event featuring a special Neverland dinner for its guests.

When working for Michael Wiesner was also involved in this type of small business activity, however in January 2003 the entrepreneurs like Wiesner and Konitzer were suddenly promoted to the level of Michael’s main business advisors who were allowed to dispose of all Michael’s funds and assets, and decide on the future of his multi-million loans and debts.

This was called by them “cleaning of house” which was evidently a way to lead Michael into these people’s own projects:

AUCHINCLOSS:

3 Q. Do you know why there was a decision to

4 clean house at this particular juncture in Mr.

5 Jackson’s — Mr. Jackson’s business?

6 A. Well, I know what Mr. Jackson told me. And

7 I know what Mr. Konitzer told me.

8 Q. All right. Why don’t you just tell me what

9 Mr. Jackson told you.

10 A. Mr. Jackson told me that he no longer had

11 confidence in John Branca. He was not pleased with

12 Barry Siegel’s handling of funds. And he was very

13 interested and enthusiastic about the Konitzer

14 ten-year MJ universe business plan.

15 Q. The MJ business plan was largely a plan to

16 try and reinvent Mr. Jackson as a superstar, wasn’t

17 it?

18 A. To a degree, yes. I mean, originally the

19 plan was premised upon acquiring a controlling

20 interest in Marvel.

21 Q. I’m sorry? Marvel?

22 A. Marvel. Spiderman.

$50 MILLION FOR MARVEL 

It was Michael's dream to obtain a controlling interest in Marvel

It was Michael’s dream to obtain a controlling interest in Marvel. If Michael’s money had gone where it was supposed to it would have been a great investment

I’m sorry too, but are they talking about acquiring a controlling interest in Marvel as a premise for this MJ Universe plan?

But the last time we read about Marvel was in the context of “squandering some $50 million on deals that never panned out” which was done by “global kinds of computerized Marvel comic-book characters bigger than life” scorned by Al Malnik.

Al Malnik was one of the new people who also entered Michael’s life at approximately the same time as LeGrand, only he did not belong to the Konitzer/Wiesner team.  Surprisingly, Malnik turned out to be one of those few people who did not sue Michael and seemed not to even charge money for his services. He said he didn’t have an official position as Michael’s business advisor and was helping him just as a friend (which I even tend to believe).

This Marvel thing was also mentioned in Frank Cascio’s book.

Over there it was connected with a heart-breaking scene describing the shock Michael experienced when he learned that someone had led him into thinking that he had acquired the controlling interest in Marvel Comics while in reality he had not.

The events described in the book took place in March 2001. If you compare it with the time Wiesner was hovering around Michael with his MJ Universe project you will see that Marvel falls exactly within the time frame of Wiesner’s employment and when Konitzer was already hired or was close to it.

The purchase of Marvel turned out to be a big fraud and the people who found it out were Court and Derek – young but aspiring financial advisors brought in by the 21-year old Frank Cascio who also worked as Michael’s assistant at the time.

The services of Court and Derek would also be discontinued later, and they would also sue Michael, but at that moment the two of them were trying to streamline Michael’s finances as best as they could and when sorting out the papers they learned that Michael was not the owner of a controlling interest in Marvel Comics though he thought he was.

Frank Cascio is writing about it in Chapter 16 called “Hitting bottom”:

“Court and Derek had been continuing their analysis and review of Michael’s organization. In their ongoing study of his financial situation, they had discovered bad news about a deal he thought was nearly complete—the move to purchase Marvel Comics. As with the Beatles catalog, which he had acquired in 1985 in a brilliant business maneuver, Michael predicted the value of Marvel, especially the potential of Spider-Man, before the films based on the comic were made. The Marvel deal had in fact fallen through, but Michael had been led to believe that the company was his.

Michael trusted me with his children, which meant he trusted me to the ends of the earth, but our most challenging moments came when I had the onerous task of being the bearer of bad news. I knew he didn’t want to hear about the Marvel debacle, but I was compelled to tell him the unvarnished truth. Court, Derek, and I met with him and informed him that he did not in fact own Marvel Comics and never had.

Michael refused to believe it, and was angry at me—at us—for delivering this news, but finally, he put his hands over his face and started crying.

“Why do I get used and lied to like this?” he kept repeating.

“Why?”

It was a heartbreaking moment and pointed to an even more heartbreaking truth: as ill-placed as his paranoia could be, there were times when it was a legitimate and justified reaction. Time and time again, Michael would insist that there were forces working against him—mercenary people who wanted only to profit from their contact with him and would stop at nothing to exploit his best intentions and instincts for their own ends. Every time something like this Marvel Comics disappointment occurred, it deepened his inability to trust his closest advisers.

More and more, automatic distrust became his only defense mechanism.”

No wonder that Michael was distrustful of each and everyone except his mother. Even we begin to grow sick and tired of this never-ending chain of enterprising people forcing themselves into Michael’s life, of their fraudulent projects and their desire to take any risk at the expense of Michael’s money – and all this with a view to make fabulous profits in case their projects work as a result of some chance miracle.

But the point that attracted my attention most was that the alleged acquisition of Marvel Comics must have involved a good deal of Michael’s money and the words of Al Malnik mentioning Marvel in connection with “squandering some $50 million on deals that never panned out” suddenly began to ring a bell.

The thing is that the period when Michael made his shocking discovery about never owning Marvel Comics (March 2001) coincides very well with the time when he got a number of loans from the Bank of America which mysteriously disappeared within a year or two.

Similarly it coincides with the people mentioned in connection with the MJ Universe project and its dependence on the acquisition of Marvel, so it is logical to assume that this is where those millions went away.

Let us recall again what LeGrand said about the MJ Universe project:

  • “…he was very interested and enthusiastic about the Konitzer ten-year MJ universe business plan. I mean, originally the plan was premised upon acquiring a controlling interest in Marvel.”

So the essence of it is that acquiring the controlling interest in Marvel was part of the MJ Universe plan and this plan was designed by Konitzer and Wiesner. Michael was very keen to obtain a share in Marvel and must have directed huge money to acquire it ($50 mln?), and if the deal had been really made it would have indeed been a great investment.

But the deal turned out to be a fraud. Someone involved in this project led Michael to believe that the company was his, apparently producing some papers to that effect, but when the papers were checked up by a third party this information was found to be a lie –  so all that money must have been simply stolen.

And the people around whom all this Marvel was revolving were Konitzer and Wiesner, the designers of Michael’s bright new future, the people who got rid of Michael’s old team and acquired the key positions in January 2003. A marvelous situation, isn’t it?

Well, it is possible that Konitzer and Wiesner were not fully responsible for the fraud as otherwise Michael would have severed his ties with them, so it must have been a third party which took his money and presented the deal as if it was done in Michael’s favor – which seems to be the  usual pattern of all those failed enterprises.

However Wiesner (and probably Konitzer) were for sure involved in that situation one way or another, and the deplorable outcome of the deal does show the capabilities of these people as Michael’s business advisers and designers of his future “well-being”, doesn’t it?

Or it points to something even worse than a mere non-professionalism as Michael could be simply unaware of the true role of these people in this Marvel disaster – which evidently cost him tens of millions of loaned money that was still to be paid back.

MJ UNIVERSE

This is why Wiesner’s and Konitzer’s project called MJ Universe produces on me so terrible an impression. It is a totally baseless plan designed to take advantage of Michael’s hopes and whip up his dreams into a fantasy based on his advisors’ totally unrealistic promises and projections.

And I’m not the only one who has this impression. LeGrand said that both he and Al Malnik were highly skeptical of the project though Konitzer and Wiesner hoped to make millions on it:

21 Q. If this plan took off, Mr. Konitzer had a

22 very legitimate hope of earning millions and

23 millions of dollars, true?

24 A. Yes. But I’ll also tell you that both Mr.

25 Malnik and I were very skeptical about Mr.

26 Konitzer’s plan.

27 AUCHINCLOSS: I understand that, but that’s not a question

28 I asked you.                                                                                                [10166]

1 But that was the hope. That was the idea

2 between you, Mr. Jackson, Mr. Konitzer, that was the

3 reason for Michael Jackson Universe, correct?

4 A. The reason was to create profit, yes.

The glowing terms in which Dieter Wiesner is describing the MJ Universe project in his recent book must have convinced Michael of its bright future, however for his old team of lawyers people like Wiesner – promising Michael diamonds in the sky but actually draining him of his last money – must have looked like highly shady characters they really are.

Hence the deep and fundamental animosity towards the old team of lawyers and especially Branca which seethes in almost every chapter of Wiesner’s book.

Below is a short piece about MJ Universe described by Wiesner in German, translated into Russian and then English again. You can imagine how accurate it is, however it will give you at least some idea of what Wiesner brainwashed Michael with:

Following much talk and reflection over his situation, it was approximately after 2000 that Michael’s plans began to acquire a concrete form. His artistic career was to move into a different direction. He was dissatisfied with the actual results of his business management. Michael said to me that he was sick and tired of being treated like an idiot. .. He worked hard and the company was grabbing most of the money.

… Michael was tied to his company by an agreement, but he no longer wanted to do as he was told and for the sake of profit too. He and his music were expected to go on making money. He didn’t want it any longer. He wanted to be his own master.

We started to develop a totally new strategy for Michael. My task was to give structure to Michael’s earlier plans, find new business partners and look into the matters of financing the project. Michael wanted us to act in the top secret atmosphere as he was afraid of a sort of a conspiracy on the part of his old business partner and the revenge of the “system”. Michael wanted to get out of control by his partner and began looking for some new ways.

Together with new people we began working on Michael’s rebranding and filling the name of “Michael Jackson” with new content. Michael wanted to have a company of his own, which would be independent of big corporations and that was MJ Universe.”

I presume that by the “old partner” Wiesner means Sony and probably Branca, so the very least we learn from Wiesner’s book is that he and Konitzer were working on the MJ Universe project in the atmosphere of full secrecy behind the back of Michael’s other partners, advisors and lawyers.

Since this top secrecy evidently concerned the Marvel deal too let me say that if Branca had learned of it in due time he would have never allowed the disaster to happen. In fact if he had been involved he would have really made that deal successful, same as his all other projects for MJ (the Beatles catalog and purchase of Neverland ranch).

The property Michael wanted to buy was put on sale in 2010 for $37,5 mln

In 2010 the estate of Michael’s dream was put on sale for $37,5 mln

Wiesner says that the Universe project started around the year 2000. Its initial stage was based on plans to buy real estate property in Las Vegas belonging to the Sultan of Brunei and then turning it into Neverland II.

In his book Wiesner describes in great detail how hard it was for him to arrange for Michael to see the property on November 9, 2003 (even this was a problem for him, not to mention finding investors).

Then he says that they decided to raise (!) the price from the basic $80 million asked for the property, never minding Michael’s accumulating debt and difficult financial situation:

“The owner negotiated with Michael and me the basic price of $80million. In contrast to the California ranch which was Michael’s personal territory Neverland II was to become a theme park opening its gate to the public. With this in view I already made a refinancing plan. .. Michael’s excitement was growing with every minute. .. It was firmly decided to raise the price (!) and acquire this property. There was no way back.”

Wiesner’s idea was to put Neverland II on a commercial basis and launch several projects on its territory that would be fully open to the general public.

The second stage of creating MJ Universe consisted of adding to the Neverland II headquarters a number of organizations called “Galaxies” (MJ Content Galaxy, MJ New Technology Galaxy, MJ Strategic Investments, MJ Developments, MJ Marketing Galaxy).

MJ Universe

Michael WAS a Universe and deserved this plan, and one day it will come true, however in the hands of those advisors it was a  matter of wishful thinking

One Galaxy of the MJ Universe project was to revolve around a film studio with a Canadian partner. Evidently even after the Marvel disaster Michael was not giving up his attempts to acquire a company for making movies – it was indeed a dream of his life. How far the project went and how many of Michael’s funds were already channeled into it only God knows:

“On October 6, 2003 we were staying in Neverland with a representative of one investor. The goal of the meeting was sorting out the “Memorandum of Understanding” for creating Michael’s own film studio. The project was carried out under the name of “MJ Studios – the Movie Studio of Tomorrow”.

.. This Memorandum of Understanding laid the basis for MJ Studios. Michael’s share in it was to be 51%, the share of the Canadian company – 49%. Michael put his signature under this document when he was still sitting in his four-wheeler.”

Another Galaxy was to incorporate the “Schools of America” humanitarian project under which one Canadian company was to deliver small pre-built houses to Africa. (Do you remember Mr. Konitzer’s main business in Canada?)

In short Wiesner’s and Konitzer’s project was truly cosmic, however it was absolutely unclear where these people were supposed to get money for the development of so massive a plan – unless they relied on Michael Jackson’s pocket again.

Wiesner's budget for Michael's Foreverland was expected to bring in $140 mln

Wiesner proposed a budget for Michael’s Foreverland (from Wiesner’s book)

There was some talk about an Internet concert broadcast online which I personally think to be a very good idea sparing Michael’s health and able to bring in a good profit –  however the bulk of those plans needed a lot of investment at the initial stage, and Konitzer and Wiesner don’t produce the impression of people capable to bring in really serious investors.

Vague as Wiesner is as regards the financial backing for MJ Universe, he is crystal clear in pointing a finger at those whom he considers the main trouble-makers in Michael’s life – the old team of MJ’s advisors including Branca and Barry Siegel.

In his zeal to compromise these people Wiesner goes far enough to imply that the old team was guilty of even supporting the idea of Bashir’s film:

“It seemed to me that he was too trustful of Trudy Green, his music manager, and Uri Geller, who approved Bashir’s plan as a good idea. Trudy Green was in close contact with Merchandise manager Howard Kaufman, who in his turn was in close business contact with the then Michael’s attorney John Branca.

What drove these people to recommend Michael making that film? Did they know what would be its outcome? Was it their plan? To have Michael return to them on his knees in utter despair?”

Let me tell you one thing. If Wiesner as Michael’s immediate advisor was constantly pouring this type of poison into Michael’s ear it isn’t surprising that Michael began to grow distrustful of his old, but more distant supporters like Branca. It is no surprise either that reasonable people around Michael began to be exasperated with the influence these shady characters were having on Michael.

Wiesner’s innuendo about Bashir’s film being approved by “these people” is a terrible, nasty and revolting lie.

No lawyer in his right mind could ever agree to a one-paragraph contract with Bashir and the fact that Wiesner sinks so low as to hint at it shows that he is ready to do almost anything to smear Branca and the old team of Michael’s advisors.

These lawyers, advisors and most probably Sony are called by Wiesner ‘the system” aiming at exploiting Michael and driving out of him the maximal profit, and the mere vocabulary of it suggests that it was someone like Wiesner who whispered into Michael’s ear all those stories about ruthless corporations robbing artists of their hard-earned money and people like Wiesner and Konitzer being Michael’s saviors.

Sony’s role still needs to be investigated but AEG, for example, is indeed a totally inhuman machine driven by gain only, however Wiesner with his ways and means was absolutely no alternative to them.

BARRY SIEGEL’S LETTER

Cleaning the house was started by Barry Siegel's letter of January 22, 2003

Cleaning the house was triggered off by Barry Siegel’s letter of January 22, 2003

The convenient moment for gripping the reigns came for Konitzer and Wiesner when Michael’s accountant Barry Siegel of Provident Financial Management sent Michael a letter dated January 22, 2003.

The letter arrived on January 27, 2003 and was breaking to Michael the bad news that the funds remaining out of his last Bank of America loan had been almost exhausted and the cash-flow situation became difficult.

The letter is provided in Wiesner’s book as an example of the way Michael’s old team humiliated him:

PERSONAL & CONFIDENTIAL

January 22, 2003

Michael Jackson

Dear Michael:

I just received a phone call from Evvy indicating that Michael La Perruque needs more petty cash in Florida. The expense of keeping your entourage in Florida is very high. Although we have covered the hotel to date, I understand you are currently planning on moving from a room @ $975 per night to the Presidential suite @ $2500 per night. Please be aware that all of your funds for the month of January have now been depleted. There is no cash available to send to you. Expenses this month have been very high because of legal and other contractual arrangements, as well as packing and shipping of equipment and transportation for personnel to Florida.

I am very concerned that your entire subsistence is based upon drawing down on the Bank of America loans. These loans will soon be exhausted and there will be no funds available to support your lifestyle. It is my understanding that you have now decided not to tour or play the shows in Las Vegas. The television special should not provide any net income to you after expenses. With no additional income being earned, it has now become clear that you will no longer be able to support your lifestyle. We must get together at your convenience and I am willing to meet you anywhere to discuss this situation. I would suggest that Zia Modabber, John Branca, John McClain and if you desire Trudy Green attend this meeting. But in any case, it is extremely important that we get together to discuss the specifics of this and how you will maintain your lifestyle.

I cannot overstate the importance of us getting together or the extent to which this problem has grown. Please call me or have Evvy arrange for us to get together.

Sincerely,

[Barry Siegel]

Wiesner says that the letter reached Michael early in the morning of January 27, 2003 in the Miami Oriental hotel in Florida. Michael cried when he received it and Wiesner tried to comfort him, only it would have been much better if he had not squandered Michael’s funds on all those fraudulent deals and had not brought the situation to where it actually was.

Wiesner’s comment looks to me highly biased and worked up:

“Michael cried in deep disappointment and handed me the letter. I marked the time (5.40 am) and started reading. I couldn’t believe my eyes and could only shake my head. .. It was unthinkable. They were finding fault with his lifestyle. The superstar on whom they earned millions. This had never happened before and was something new. It was disrespectful.

Their rebukes made Michael feel financially pressured. They drove him into a state of fear and were now forcing him to tour though they knew perfectly well how much he hated and resisted it. The idea was to sell his talent through TV shows and Las Vegas concerts, to make the money stream to them again and get everything back to order – this is how they imagined it!

Michael was all the more shattered that the letter was written by people with whom he was working very closely. Now they were putting a gun to his head. He was deeply in shock.

The letter symbolized to him the ruthlessness of music industry. The people who wrote it wanted to induce him to behave in a certain way. The letter received by Michael on January 27, 2003 was the beginning of the process which would later force him to agree to do 50 concerts for This is it. Michael was to earn money for the system and bring profit, irrespective of the circumstances. He knew that the desire to make profit was in the first place.“

When someone repeatedly tells you that you have a whole Universe of opportunities open to you and your old team is set only on exploiting and squeesing you for profit while being totally unwilling to come up with any new ideas, you will do what Michael did –  he appointed Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer his managers and gave both of them the General Power of Attorney to handle all his assets.

Simultaneously he fired the whole team of his old advisors.

The decision was apparently taken on the spur of the moment as the letter arrived on January 27 and four days later, on January 31, 2003 Michael already empowered his friends (as the Power of Attorney said) Wiesner and Konitzer to fully act on his behalf in matters concerning investing, selling, purchasing, leasing, borrowing and encumbering his assets; dealing with financial institutions, handling trusts, disbursing funds, etc.

In short, he entrusted them with handling all his business affairs.

LETTERS OF DISCONTINUANCE OF SERVICES

Discontinuance of service of Barry Siegel

Discontinuance of service of Barry Siegel

Four days after making that Power of Attorney, on February 4, 2003 letters of discontinuance of services were sent to John Branca (the Ziffren firm), Barry Siegel (of Provident Financial Management), Brian Wolf (of Lavely Singer firm), Trudy Green, his music manager and Howard Kaufman, his merchandising director.

Barry Siegel hurried to pass over all his documents to Ed Grossman’s firm that replaced him in matters of accounting and even stepped down from the co-trustees of Michael’s Will and Michael Jackson Family Trust.

Branca also cooperated with the new team as LeGrand received from him full access to the Sony/ATV documents, however he did not step down from the co-trustees of Michael’s Trust and Will.

The way I understand it he was not obliged to as matters of wills are separate issues and the lawyers are changed there only at the moment when a new will supersedes the old one and not earlier.

The services of Trudy Green and Howard Kaufman were also discontinued

The services of Trudy Green and Howard Kaufman were also discontinued

The terms of the Trust said that in case all its Trustees were unable to fulfill their duties their place was to be taken by the NationsBank (now Bank of America) which by the way was also the holder of all Michael’s debts.

When the Trust was made in November 1995 there was no loan yet – the first $90 million loan was taken in late 1996, and by the time the ‘cleaning of house’ process began in 2003 the debt was already more than $200 million, so having the Bank of America as the Trustee of the Family Trust instead of Branca and McClain would not have helped.

If anyone thinks that the Bank of America would have allowed Michael Jackson to transfer to his Family Trust millions and millions of dollars and keep them protected from his creditors there while his overall debt would be accumulating elsewhere, these people are gravely mistaken.

So all this talk about why there was no money in the Trust and why Branca didn’t step down is a mere thundering of the air which I don’t even want to comment on.

Excerpt from the Michael Jackson Family Trust of November  1, 1995 amended in March 2002.  In case all Co-Trustees stepped down  NATIONSBANK (now Bank of America) was to step in

Excerpt from the Michael Jackson Family Trust of November 1, 1995 amended in March 2002. In case all Co-Trustees stepped down NATIONSBANK (now Bank of America) was to step in

And there can be absolutely no doubt that after that February 2003 stunt with Wiesner and Konitzer discontinuing the services of their long opponent Branca, he still continued working for Michael.

In the summer of 2003 he was carrying out negotiations with Goldman Sachs and Koppelman on Michael’s behalf and writing letters to Koppelman defending Michael’s interests in each of its points (please see the previous post about it).

And it was absolutely not due to any embezzlement that his services were discontinued in February 2003. He, like all others in Michael’s old team, fell one of the casualties of this cleaning the house project and the so-called bringing ‘fresh blood’ into Michael’s representation.

One of those with fresh blood was David LeGrand who, as far as I understand replaced John Branca as the main transactional attorney as he had access to all documentation.

It was LeGrand who drafted all those letters of dismissal, and it was also LeGrand who made the General Power of Attorney for Konitzer and Wiesner the next moment he was hired by the new team of managers. In his testimony LeGrand did not mention the latter crucial fact and we know it from the testimony of another witness at the 2005 trial – Ann Kite.

ANN KITE

Ann Marie Kite (professional name Ann Gabriel) was a PR person hired by the new team and fired by them a week later. Kite and LeGrand had worked together and were in a personal relationship. She knew that LeGrand had been friends with Konitzer for about nine years and she felt that LeGrand was hired by Konitzer in order to keep quiet.

This is what she said about LeGrand’s and Konitzer’s casual friendship and what was expected of him in the new job  (Ann Kite’s testimony is quoted by this Sanemjfan’s post):

 Q. You told the sheriffs that it was your understanding that LeGrand and Konitzer had been casual friends for about nine years, right?

A. That’s what David told me, yes.

Q. And you told the sheriffs you thought Konitzer hired LeGrand because he thought LeGrand would be quiet and just do his job, correct?

A. Yes, that’s correct, that’s what I said.

Ann Kite also said that the first thing LeGrand did in the new job was drafting the General power of Attorney for his old friend. But in addition to that she mentioned one other extremely disturbing thing which acquires importance only when you look at the whole picture – otherwise it would go completely unnoticed.

She said that she had also seen LeGrand getting ready for the new and exciting client for about a year before he actually started on the job:

General power of attorney for Konitzer and Wiesner from Wiesner's book

“I, Michael Jackson appoint my friends, Ronald Konitzer and Dieter Wiesner, as my full and lawful attorneys-in-fact to act for me and in my name” (General Power of Attorney from Wiesner’s book)

Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: I’m asking you when you learned that Konitzer was going to have a power of attorney over Michael Jackson.

A. At the end of January.

Q. Okay. When you first heard about it, was it your understanding that it had already been signed or was it about to be signed?

A. It was about to be signed.

Q. Okay. And do you remember why — excuse me. Let me rephrase. In what context did Mr. LeGrand discuss that with you, if you know? Why did it come up?

A. David had been telling me for a while that he was preparing to take on a new client, that he had been working on it for a number of months. I think it was probably close to a year. And he was excited about it. He never told me who the client was until he told me about the power of attorney and who the client was.                                        

The General power of attorney was signed on January 31, 2003

The General power of attorney was signed on January 31, 2003 in Florida, where Barry Siegel’s letter reached him

Q. And was it your understanding that David LeGrand prepared that power of attorney?

A. Yes, it was.

Let me repeat it once again. So approximately a year before Michael appointed Konitzer and Wiesner on the spur of the moment (as a result of Barry Siegel’s letter) LeGrand had already been preparing for working in Michael’s team?

But how could Konitzer and Wiesner know a year in advance that they would take over from the old team and their protégé LeGrand would have a chance to join them?

Things like that can’t be known in advance. Well, in fact they can, but only if they are planned  in advance too and implemented according to plan.

Of course it can mean that Michael had been planning to change his whole team of advisors already a year before that, but my first reaction to this news was that Konitzer and Wiesner were consistenly working on Michael to convince him of his old advisors’ greed and ruthlessness, gradually persuading him that the two of them were a much better choice, and it took them a year to finally reach the goal.

Actually the key “old advisor” in Michael’s team was Branca as he had worked with Michael longer than any other person in the team. He was the designer of the Beatles catalog deal and its later merge with Sony. So if these new guys were preparing well in advance to oust the old advisors it was actually Branca who they wanted to oust and replace first.

This conclusion looks amazing but absolutely logical in this situation, and if you have arguments to prove otherwise please state them – if you can, of course.

Let me sum up the main events in January 2003 as follows:

  • After receiving Barry Siegel’s letter Michael appointed Konitzer and Wiesner his main business advisors
  • Konitzer hired LeGrand as a new lawyer for Michael replacing John Branca and the old team of managers and lawyers
  • the first thing LeGrand did upon being hired was making the General Power of Attorney for his friends
  • the next thing he did was drafting a letter discontinuing the services of John Branca, Barry Siegel, Brian Wolf, Trudy Green and Howard Kaufman
  • And the biggest marvel of it all was the LeGrand was preparing for this work a year in advance.

Now that LeGrand’s testimony has been placed in the proper background I hope it will become much easier to decipher it.

PART 2

FIRING AND HIRING

When Barry Siegel as Michael’s accountant stepped down, the firm to replace him was Ed Grossman and Michael Stern of International Business Management. However several weeks later they refused to carry on as they couldn’t handle Michael’s complex business and were replaced by Allan Whitman’s firm.

Allan Whitman was fully aware of the secret MJ Universe project and LeGrand even testified that the sums received from the Take 2 video ultimately went to Allan Whitman.

The way LeGrand is describing the transition it was the time of a great havoc – especially if you recall that it was accompanied by Bashir’s film which devastated Michael, made him extremely nervous and this naturally led to his huge mistakes in judgment:

AUCHINGLOSS:

23 Q. And in part of this cleaning of house, Mr.

24 Jackson decided to personally fire his attorney who

25 he had been with for more than a decade?

26 A. Yes.

27 Q. And he wrote a letter dismissing that

28 attorney, didn’t he?                                                                                      [10079]

1 A. Yes.

2 Q. He decided to personally fire his business

3 manager at the time?

4 A. Yes.

11 Q. He personally fired his entertainment

12 manager?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Again, part of the cleaning house; part of

15 what he wanted you to do?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. And then a month after hiring you, he

18 personally fired you?

19 A. Yes. Well, two months, three months. But

20 yes, two months.

21 Q. Okay. And in — sometime in January, or

22 before that time, he decided — Mr. Jackson decided

23 that he wanted to put Ronald Konitzer and Dieter

24 Weizner in charge of his enterprises?

25 A. Yes. That’s what he told me.

26 Q. Yes. That was his decision, correct?

27 A. As far as I know.                                                                                  [10080]

12 Q. All right. So the month of February comes,

13 and the Michael Jackson/Martin Bashir documentary

14 airs. You said that things became frantic. Is that

15 when things started to get frantic?

16 A. The pace picked up immediately when I

17 returned to Las Vegas from Florida and we began

18 interviewing for the replacement of the money

19 manager.

20 Q. And ultimately you settled on Ed Gross?

21 A. I think it’s Ed Grossman.

22 Q. Ed Grossman?

23 Was that Michael Jackson’s decision, based

24 upon your advice, to choose Ed Grossman?

25 A. It was Ronald Konitzer. We discussed it.

22 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: And who was ultimately

23 part of the new management team?                                                          

24 A. Well, the cash management — initially a

25 company – and I don’t remember the name, but the

26 principals were Ed Grossman and Michael Sternwere

27 selected to cake over cash management from Barry

28 Siegel. That ultimately was changed in a few weeks.

1 And the firm of — well, it’s Allan Whitman.

2 I’m not sure of the firm name. It’s Fox, Marty Fox,

3 Whitman, and another couple partners.

4 Q. And were you communicating with Mr. Konitzer

5 in this regard?

6 A. Oh, yes.

7 Q. Were you communicating with Mr. Weizner in

8 this regard?

9 A. Less so, but yes.

10 Q. And was it your impression that Mr. Konitzer

11 and Mr. Weizner were trying to take over the

12 management of Mr. Jackson’s business?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Was it your impression that they wanted Mr.

15 Jackson kept out of a lot of the day-to-day

16 discussions?

17 MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Objection; foundation.

18 THE COURT: Sustained.

3 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Do you remember, when you

4 were brought on board, Konitzer and Weizner telling

5 you they wanted to gain control of anything

6 belonging to Mr. Jackson?

7 MR. AUCHINCLOSS: I’ll make the same

8 objection. And leading.

9 THE COURT: Overruled.

10 THE WITNESS: In general, Mr. Konitzer and

11 Mr. Weizner wanted to take over management, overall

12 management, of Michael Jackson’s business affairs,

13 financial affairs, and implement a new business plan

14 for Mr. Jackson.

15 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: And they essentially told

16 you in writing they wanted to control everything Mr.

17 Jackson owned, right?

18 A. For the benefit of Mr. Jackson, yes.

25 — ultimately, Ed Grossman and Michael Stern

26 decided they really could not handle the business,

27 and then we transitioned to Mr. Whitman. That was

28 extremely time-consuming. Took a significant part                  [10026]

1 of my time and effort.

4 Also, during the same time, I would have —

5 people like Evvy Tavasci would call and say that

6 Michael needed money for something and would ask me

7 to facilitate that.

8 So I also was in the process of reviewing

9 the various loan documents. I was trying to get a

10 firm grasp of Mr. Jackson’s financial affairs, try

11 to understand, ascertain his assets, his

12 liabilities, and that was all wrapped up in this

13 transitioning of trying to put a new team into

14 place.

15 Q. Do you recall doing any work involving the

16 Sony/ATV music catalog?

17 A. Well, I looked — I got a copy of the

18 Sony/ATV documents.

19 I had one of my commercial associates

20 analyze those documents and generate a report

21 summarizing the content. These are very voluminous,

22 detailed, complex documents, and I had an associate

23 review them and analyze them and I believe produce a

24 report to me.

In the midst of all this havoc we find that Michael never ‘demanded’ that Barry Siegel should pass over all the documents to his successor. It was Barry Siegel himself who asked for a letter from Michael authorizing him to transfer his documents to another accountant and it was following Barry’s request that the respective letter was made.

And it is quite probable that all those letters of discontinuance of service were made at the request of other dismissed people – in order to have a formal reason for producing the highly confidential documents to another team.

This puts the events into a different perspective and definitely contradicts the currently popular version that Michael suspected the old team of embezzlement and demanded that they should produce all their documents for some sort of an “investigation”.

6 LEGRAND:  Mr. Jackson had told me, when he was in

7 Florida, that he wanted Barry Siegel to go and

8 someone else to be engaged.

9 Q. So did he —

10 A. And he told us to find somebody, you know,

11 appropriate.

12 Q. Okay. And did he ultimately okay or make

13 the decision to go with Ed Grossman?

14 A. I don’t remember a specific, “Yes, go with

15 Ed Grossman” conversation. I know that Ed Grossman

16 met with Barry Siegel. Barry Siegel requested

17 authority from Mr. Jackson for transferring, and we

18 provided that authority in the form of a document

19 signed by Mr. Jackson to Mr. Siegel instructing him

20 to transfer.

21 Q. Okay. So Mr. Jackson signed a document

22 basically instructing that the transfer of his

23 business management interests were going to Ed

24 Grossman?

25 A. Well, the cash management.

26 Q. Yeah. The cash management.

27 Ed Grossman is International Business

28 Management, correct?                                                   [10082]

1 A. I think so, yes.

2 Q. IBM, right?

3 So that transaction can’t occur without Mr.

4 Jackson’s permission, correct?

5 A. Well, Mr. Konitzer and Dieter Weizner had a

6 limited power of attorney. I’m not sure, as I sit

7 here, whether that was within the scope of power or

8 not, whether they could have done that. But my

9 belief is, my recollection is that Mr. Jackson

10 authorized the transfer to Ed Grossman,

11 International Business Management.

25 A. Actually, I was the one who created

26 limitations, and I specifically consulted with Mr.

27 Jackson about that.

How very interesting. Only a couple of minutes ago we learned that Michael gave the two of them the General power of Attorney (January 31, 2003) however soon after that LeGrand had to create limitations for both guys. Why, I wonder?

LeGrand says that he felt that Konitzer was making “bad decisions” and some things “did not add up”. Konitzer’s old friend became suspicious of these two people’s motives and actions, and when he found the transfer of $965,000 no one could account for he ended up sending a letter to Konitzer asking for explanations.

However approximately two weeks after that LeGrand was fired. Same as the hiring process was initiated by Konitzer, the firing process could be easily initiated by the same person too.

LeGrand testifed about it avoiding to disclose that it was him who drafted the Power of Attorney for the two guys whom he later began to suspect of embezzling almost a million:

15 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Did you ever learn whether or not Mr.

16 Jackson had given a power of attorney to either of

17 these two people?

18 A. Yes, I believe he did.

19 Q. Did that concern you?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. Why?

22 A. I was concerned that they could abuse that

23 power or exceed the authority of the power.

24 Q. Did you do anything about that?

25 A. Yes. I spoke to some of the other lawyers

26 that were representing Mr. Jackson, and we agreed

27 that we would ask Mr. Jackson to revoke the power of

28 attorney.                                                                                  [10015]

1 Q. Was that done?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Now, at some point, you learned that

4 Konitzer had arranged to have you terminated, right?

5 MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Objection. Hearsay;

6 leading.

7 THE COURT: Sustained.

15 Q. Now, at some point in time did you become

16 suspicious of Mr. Konitzer and Mr. Weizner?

17 A. Yes.

18 MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Objection. Well, move to

19 strike. Leading.

20 THE COURT: Overruled.

MR. MESEREAU:

25 Q. Why did you become suspicious of Konitzer

26 and Weizner?

27 A. I became concerned that they were in a

28 position to divert funds. I was concerned about                        [10007]

1 the — having appropriate documentation for tax

2 purposes for Mr. Jackson and his companies. And in

3 general, I — I began to disagree with some of Mr.

4 Konitzer’s decisions on matters and felt that he was

5 making bad decisions, I guess is the way to say it.

6 So I — I became suspicious of his motives and

7 actions.

8 Q. Could you please explain what you were

9 suspicious of?

10 A. I was —

11 MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Objection; asked and

12 answered.

13 THE COURT: Sustained.

14 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: You mentioned you were

15 suspicious of financial matters involving Konitzer,

16 right?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. Please explain.

19 A. Well, ultimately there was another attorney

20 involved who was serving as the escrow agent for

21 some funds, and I asked him for an accounting in

22 order to get Allan Whitman up to speed on some

23 disbursements, payments, payables, et cetera.

24 And that accounting came from this attorney,

25 and it indicated that there had been about $900,000 —

26 I don’t remember the exact number, but it was many

27 hundreds of thousands of dollars that had been

28 disbursed to Ronald Konitzer or Dieter Weizner. I                      [10008]

1 mean, the combination was in hundreds of thousands

2 of dollars.

3 And I then — I spoke to a couple of the

4 lawyers that, you know, were providing

5 representation, and I ultimately wrote a letter

6 within, you know, a couple of days of learning of

7 this. I wrote a letter to Mr. Konitzer asking him

8 to account for this money.

9 Q. Was the amount you were concerned about

10 approximately $965,000?

11 A. Yeah, without seeing it today. But that

12 sounds like approximately the right number, yes.

13 Q. Would it refresh your recollection if I show

14 you your letter?

15 A. Yes, it would.

20 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Mr. LeGrand, have you had

21 a chance to review that document?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Does it refresh your recollection about your

24 concerns involving Mr. Konitzer?

25 A. Yes, the amount — the aggregate amount of

26 disbursements that I set forth in that letter was

27 $965,000.

28 Q. And where did that amount come from, if you               [10009]

1 remember?

2 A. I believe the source of that funds was the

3 FOX — some of the FOX payments with regard to the

4 “Take 2” video production.

6 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Why did you think Konitzer

7 and Weizner had diverted $965,000 from Mr. Jackson?

8 A. Because the report I got from this other

9 lawyer showed those disbursements.

10 Q. And when you saw the record of those

11 disbursements, what did you do?

12 A. I spoke to several of the other lawyers that

13 were representing Mr. Jackson, and agreed that I

14 should write a letter to Mr. Konitzer asking him to

15 account.

16 Q. Did you ever find out what he had done with

17 the money?

18 A. No, I was terminated by Mr. Jackson as

19 counsel within, I don’t know, two weeks, maybe, of

20 that letter to Mr. Konitzer.

The accountant LeGrand is talking about is a certain Mr. Finkelstein who was hired by the new managers and was responsible for the company Fire Mountain specially created to handle the proceeds from the Take 2 rebuttal video.

In case you think that the huge sum of $965,000 was paid to Konitzer and Wiesner as money for their services you will be wrong because they received their own legitimate payment as separate wires:

8 And then there’s an $11,000 cash

9 disbursement. Do you know where that went, on 2-13?

10 A. It went in a wire, that’s reflective of the

11 wire to Katrin Konitzer, I believe.

12 Q. Now, there’s funds sent Western Union,

13 $2,000 to Katrin Konitzer.

6 Q. Okay. Next you sent out a wire for Mr.

7 Konitzer, $90,000, correct?

8 A. Yes.

9 Q. Mr. Konitzer’s direction.

15 Q. Okay. Dieter Weizner got $110,000. I’m

16 assuming that was Mr. Konitzer and Mr. Weizner’s

17 directive?

18 A. Yes.

6 Q. Okay. Moving down a little bit, we see,

7 let’s see here, an outgoing wire to Ken H.

8 Finkelstein, $560,000.

9 What was that for?

10 A. That was at the instruction of Mr. Konitzer

11 and Mr. Weizner.

16 And did you talk to Mr. Finkelstein?

17 A. I believe the answer is yes. I don’t

18 remember the specific conversation, but I know I did

19 have a conversation or two with Mr. Finkelstein.

20 Q. Okay. Did you ever meet Mr. Finkelstein?

21 A. No.

22 Q. There’s another outgoing wire here, 3-25,

23 $1,400,000 for Mr. Finkelstein.

24 Do you know what that was for?

25 A. Same as the $560,000.

10 Q. BY MR. AUCHINCLOSS: And we have — moving

11 down, we also have, just as an example, another

12 sizeable incoming wire, $566,000, from Alfred Haber.

13 Mr. Haber is the foreign rights distributor

14 for the “Take 2” video; isn’t that true?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. So there was $3 million from FOX, plus

17 additional hundreds of thousands of dollars that

18 came in from foreign sources, correct?

19 A. Ultimately, yes. It came from Haber.

20 Q. Marketing the video overseas?

21 A. Yes.

At this point we realize that the sum Mr. Finkelsten was handling was $2 million out of the $3 million paid by Fox for the Take 2 video and $566,000 for running the film oversees. And it was actually Finkenstein who showed to LeGrand the transfer of $965,000 to Konitzer or Wiesner that couldn’t be accounted for.

LeGrand says that Konitzer was unhappy that Mr. Finkelstein shared with him this information:

25 THE WITNESS: I believe that Mr. Konitzer

26 was unhappy that Mr. Finkelstein gave me that

27 accounting.

Authorization list for Dieter Wiesener

Authorization list for Dieter Wiesener on the events connected with the MJ Universe project

In addition to that the sum of $150,000 was sent to a certain “Neverland Valley Entertainment” – the company that had nothing to do with Michael Jackson.

Judging by its name it could be easily related to the MJ Universe project (Neverland II) and could be feeding one of those Galaxies where all those funds were disappearing as if in real outer space.

Let me say it directly. Even if Michael endorsed these transfers for their Universe project Konitzer and Wiesner were still taking advantage of Michael’s trust as none of those projects were ever realized, all the money was squandered and these people were simply hoodwinking Michael in approximately the same manner as it was done by Bashir.

In short the sum of $965,000 as well as $150,000 for Neverland Valley Entertainment could easily go in the same direction in which all those millions had previously gone – allegedly for Marvel Comics:

16 So you were involved in sending out $150,000

17 to Neverland Valley Entertainment; is that fair to

18 say?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. I take it that went to your client, Mr.

21 Jackson?

22 A. It went to Neverland Valley Entertainment.

23 Q. I’m sorry, I’m misspeaking. Neverland

24 Valley Entertainment is not Mr. Jackson, is it?

25 A. I believe that’s a corporation that is — I

26 believe that’s not owned by Mr. Jackson.                                       [10106]

3 Q. Under whose direction did you send that

4 $150,000 out to Neverland Valley Entertainment?

5 A. Mr. Konitzer and Mr. Weizner.

All this activity on the part of Konitzer and Wiesner eventually made LeGrand hire an investigative firm. He consulted his law partner Mr. Gibson, who was also a former assistant prosecutor and together they decided to launch an investigation and do some background checks on Konitzer, Wiesner (and Schaffel):

3 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: At some point, did you have Schaffel,

4 Konitzer and Weizner investigated?

5 A. I — again, on behalf of Mr. Jackson, I

6 engaged an independent private investigative

7 company, and asked them to investigate the

8 backgrounds of Mr. Konitzer and Mr. Weizner and

9 Mr. Schaffel.

10 Q. Why?

11 MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Objection; improper

12 opinion.

13 THE COURT: Overruled.

14 THE WITNESS: Because I was suspicious of

15 their motives, and some of their statements didn’t

16 quite seem to add up.

17 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Was the investigation into

18 Konitzer, Weizner and Schaffel conducted by you and

19 your partner?

20 A. Mr. Gibson, my partner, and I discussed the

21 need for some investigative background material. We

22 agreed it was appropriate, and we engaged the

23 investigative firm on behalf of Mr. Jackson.

22 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: What did you do to have

23 Schaffel, Konitzer and Weizner investigated?

24 A. Working with one of my partners at Hale Lane

25 who had the — he’s a former U.S. Assistant

26 Prosecutor and had good relationships with a couple

27 of private investigating firms, we selected a firm,

28 got them a retainer and asked them to do background              [10013]

1 checks and let us know what they found.

So this is how the Interfor report actually started!

It was a way to investigate Konitzer and Wiesner who could not explain the $965,000 diverted by them and absolutely not Branca as we were led to believe!

By the way LeGrand was asked to investigate Branca at the request of Konitzer and while Konitzer thought that LeGrand was looking into Branca the primary task of the investigative report was to look into the background of Konitzer and Wiesner.

What is also exceptionally interesting is that now absolutely no attention is paid to those with whom the Interfor report actually began and all attention is focused on Branca, whose name comes third in the report and on page 8 too.

And where are the first two people in the report? Who are they?  Konitzer and Wiesner? And where are the first 6 or 7 pages devoted to these remarkable people? I would absolutely love to read the information about them too. And wait a minute – why has only the page on Branca been released while all the rest of it is hidden from public view? Who has done it that way and why?

LeGrand evidently received several reports from Interfor because he says that the very first one on Konitzer and Wiesner only enhanced his suspicions:

24 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: You were retained in

25 approximately January of 2003, right?

26 A. End of January, yes.

27 Q. And how long did it take you to grow

28 suspicious of what Konitzer and Weizner were doing                  [10045]

1 to Mr. Jackson?

2 MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Objection. Argumentative;

3 leading; and asked and answered.

4 THE COURT: Overruled.

5 You may answer.

6 THE WITNESS: Weeks. I mean, whether it was

7 four weeks or six weeks, I’m not sure. But

8 certainly by the end of February, early March

9 period, I was very suspicious, and I’m not sure of

10 the time frame. The first investigative report that

11 I got just increased my degree of suspicion.

12 But at the same time that some of this was

13 going on with respect to my concerns about Mr.

14 Konitzer and Mr. Weizner, Mr. Malnik had entered the

15 scene and was asserting —

16 MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Objection; narrative.

17 THE COURT: Sustained.

10 Q. You were concerned that Konitzer was engaged

11 in self-dealing at the expense of Michael Jackson,

12 true?

13 A. Yes.

14 MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Objection. Relevancy;

15 improper opinion.

16 MR. MESEREAU: I think the prosecutor’s gone

17 through all this, Your Honor.

18 THE COURT: The objection is overruled.

19 THE WITNESS: My answer is yes, I was

20 concerned.

21 Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: You were also concerned

22 that Dieter Weizner was engaging in self-dealing at

23 the expense of Michael Jackson, correct?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. You were — you asked for an investigation

26 into Konitzer’s background in Canada, right?

27 A. Canada and Germany, yes.

28 Q. And you also asked for an investigation into                       [10219]

1 Weizner’s background in Germany, right?

2 A. Yes.

LeGrand’s testimony is far from finished, but I will suspend it for today. In the supplement you will find a couple of articles which will give you some idea of the kind of information LeGrand could obtain as a result of his investigation of Konitzer, Wiesner (and Schaffner).

And though the articles may be dated a time later than the described events, the nature, motives and goals of all these people must have remained the same.

SUPPLEMENT

Jack[son] Loses Logo; Manager Owns Sex Clubs

By Roger Friedman

Published December 02, 2003

FoxNews.com

Michael Jackson‘s got some big problems. And that’s besides being arrested for child molestation. Jackson has no idea that his current manager, Dieter Wiesner, the man who helped hire attorney Mark Geragos and is now calling the shots in the Jackson camp, is known for operating sex clubs and brothels at home in Germany.

Prostitution is legal in Germany, in case you didn’t know. But many other things, which Wiesner’s former partners and employees say he has interests in, are not legal, including fraud — for which he was tried earlier this year in a German court — and selling stolen goods.

As well, because of debts Wiesner incurred on his behalf, Jackson has lost the rights to his MJ trademark in Germany and Europe to a technology company. The result could be that company’s interference with the sales of Jackson CDs on that continent.

This is bad news for a number of reasons. According to my sources, in recent weeks Wiesner and his partner, Ronald Konitzer, have cut Jackson off from his regular group of advisers, isolating him. (Konitzer, a Vancouver businessman who is said to have many enemies, is apparently the one who actually called Geragos last spring.) Together they have been with Jackson since before the search of Neverland Ranch on Nov. 19, staying at the pop star’s side.

Wiesner can be seen lurking in the background on the infamous videotape of Jackson dangling a baby from a German hotel balcony.

The can Dieter Wiesner suggested to Michael

The can that started it all (a photo from Wiesner’s book)

It’s no secret that Jackson has been a poor judge of character in the past regarding business partners. But Wiesner seems the oddest choice of all. In 1997, during Jackson’s European tour, Wiesner set up a plan to market a soft drink called the MJ Mystery Drink with Jackson’s endorsement. The project crashed and burned, with Wiesner and his partner Karl Neubacher — a garage mechanic Wiesner is said to have hired off the street — declaring bankruptcy and bringing the ire of his investors.

Wiesner and Neubacher eventually stood trial for fraud but a judge gave them two years probation and a fine of $5000 euros. Nevertheless, Jackson continues to trust Wiesner who still manages Jackson’s MJ Net Entertainment AG, which handles merchandising for the singer.

Even though the court let Wiesner off the hook, the investors in Mystery Drink remain furious with him. One of them, a printing company, lost roughly a million dollars in the deal. Another investor,Thomas Rinnert, who now runs an air cargo company, has nothing but disdain for his former partner.

Rinnert, who said he set up the initial Mystery Drink meetings for Wiesner with Sony’s merchandising office in London, said he lost $120,000 of his own money.

“Dieter will take Michael’s money,” said Rinnert. “He is a snake. He’s very dangerous. He’s an unhuman, greedy, unscrupulous person. He is dangerous. Michael Jackson is his victim.”

Rinnert also said that during the time he knew Wiesner, the latter man invited him several times to sex clubs he owned. Another former associate who worked with Wiesner on the failed Mystery Drink project said over the weekend that Wiesner owns several such clubs. Two of the clubs were identified as the Sauna Relax Club in Limburg, Germany, and the Sex In (formerly called Rosie’s Bar), which is managed by Wiesner’s girlfriend, Roswitha Becker, in Darmstadt, Germany. Becker’s sister is also said to be part of the team, which operates the two clubs plus private apartments where call girls ply their trade.

“He’s the worst thing you can come across,” said Richard Kaser, who worked for Wiesner for three years on Jackson related projects.

Kaser said that Wiesner regularly used the MJ Entertainment company offices to house stolen goods, which Wiesner allegedly purchased in bulk. “We had a load of leather jackets that suddenly arrived at the Mystery company. But there was a tip off of a police raid, and by the time they came, the jackets were gone.”

In August 2000, a Darmstadt police official, Thomas Karolewicz, quipped in a memo that Wiesner was “well known” to his department. Karolewicz told me yesterday he knew Wiesner but was prevented by law from discussing his activities.

According to my sources, Jackson does not know the true nature of Wiesner’s business. The two were introduced by Jackson’s former head of security, Wayne Nagin, after Wiesner approached Nagin with a business proposition for Jackson in 1997. Nagin is now rumored to have his own legal troubles.

Apart from Wiesner’s own questionable business, his mishandling of Jackson’s financial dealings is now in question also. This year, he lost control of Jackson’s trademark “MJ” logo to a German businessman, Wolfgang Rath. Rath runs TePax, a German investment company that owns the technology to make flat, wall hanging high-end stereo speakers. Rath said he made a deal with Jackson, via Wiesner, to put Jackson’s (removable) image on the speakers. In turn, Wiesner ordered thousands of speakers for Jackson to give or sell to fans.

“The problem started as MJ Net Entertainment never paid any of our invoices,” Rath wrote to me from his sickbed yesterday. “So we have already delivered several systems, which they never paid for, and in addition we have about 10,000 systems in our warehouse, which were built for them. Our channels are totally filled up, so no one knows what to do with the product.”

Rath said he wrote to Jackson’s representatives and got no response. Eventually, he said, TePax won two cases against Wiesner in court and gained the rights to the Jackson trademark. “But merchandising is not our core business and after another six months time of no reaction from mj net we start now our second step and try to sell our rights on the logo. The only problem is that exactly now MJ has a really bad image in Germany, but of course this can change. So we are now willing to do anything to sell some of the remaining stock and the logo to get a small compensation for our loss.”

One would think that buying back the Jackson logo would be something Sony would be mildly interested in. But Rath said Sony declined to get involved.

“Their only comment was that they don’t deal with MJ any longer.” He adds, “It would be a disaster if we send Sony a letter mentioning they are not allowed to use the logo any longer and they have to take back even all old CDs from the German market. This would cost them millions.”

Wiesner’s German lawyer, Thomas Stein, told me yesterday that he was surprised to hear about his client’s activities, but didn’t know him well. Wiesner, through a spokesman, said that he never owned any businesses involving prostitution, just restaurants with bars. “I’ve never been convicted of fraud. Fraud was alleged, but the case was resolved,” he said.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2003/12/02/jacko-loses-logo-manager-owns-sex-clubs/

 .

Friday, April 29, 2005 Posted: 4:38 AM EDT (0838 GMT)

SANTA MARIA, California (CNN) — Michael Jackson’s ex-wife told a jury Thursday that she believed the pop star was being manipulated by three business associates she called “opportunistic vultures,” who were trying to profit from his fame and fortune.

Rowe also said Thursday that Schaffel “bragged about how he took advantage of an opportunity” to make millions of dollars from the rebuttal documentary, which was sold to the Fox network. She said Schaffel also falsely told Konitzer and Weizner that she had demanded $100,000 for her interview, but then kept the money for himself.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/04/28/jackson.trial/index.html?_s=PM:LAW

And here is ANN KITE about all of them:

Q. And you told them, the police — pardon me, I keep saying “police” — the sheriffs that Konitzer and Weizner have a record of making very bad business deals, right?

A. Yes, that’s correct.

Q. You told the sheriffs that Konitzer and Weizner have scammed people out of millions of dollars, right?

A. Yes, that’s correct.

Q. You told the sheriffs that LeGrand was doing a background check on Konitzer, right?

A. Yes, he did.

Q. Did you encourage him to do that?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. Because you were suspicious of what Konitzer was up to, right?

A. I was suspicious of everything, yes.

Q. On that team?

A. On that team, yes.

Q. Did you tell that to Mr. LeGrand?

A. Yes, I did. Many, many times.

Q. Okay. You told the sheriffs that it was your understanding that LeGrand and Konitzer had been casual friends for about nine years, right?

A. That’s what David told me, yes.

Q. And you told the sheriffs you thought Konitzer hired LeGrand because he thought LeGrand would be quiet and just do his job, correct?

A. Yes, that’s correct, that’s what I said.

Q. But at some point you learned that LeGrand started an investigation of Konitzer, right?

A. At some point I pushed David to go in that direction, yes.

Q. Okay. You told the sheriffs that LeGrand would not have investigated if you had not put these questions in his head, right?

A. I believe that to be true, yes, because he told me in the beginning that I was overreacting.

Q. Okay. And you told the sheriffs that once LeGrand started doing his investigation and background checks on Konitzer, he spoke with accounting people and found out Konitzer had embezzled $980,000 from Mr. Jackson, right?

A. That was the total figure that he told me, yes.

Q. And you told the sheriffs that if you look at Konitzer and Weizner’s track record, they’re not the type of people that should be managing anything for Michael Jackson, right?

A. Yes, sir, that’s what I believed, yes.

Q. Told the sheriffs, “If you look at their track record, they’re not good business people,” right?

A. Yes, sir, that’s correct.

Q. You told the sheriffs that they caused Michael Jackson to lose his logo in the United Kingdom?

A. Yes, sir, that’s correct, I did say that.

Q. How did you know that?

A. I read that through news reports and I believe David confirmed that for me.

Q. And you thought they all were hurting Michael Jackson, right?

A. Yes, sir, I do, absolutely.

Q. And you still believe that, right?

A. Yes, absolutely.

Q. You told the Santa Barbara sheriffs that you think somewhere down the line Konitzer and Weizner were going to get a payoff, right?

A. Yes, I believe I did say that, yes.

Q. So you told them it made sense to you that down the line Konitzer and Weizner were going to get some kind of payoff?

A. Yes, sir, that’s correct. But that payoff could have been from a business interest; it could have been from any number of things.

Q. Did he tell you that he had suspicions that these people were stealing from Michael Jackson at some point?

A. He told me that he had called the accountants and got them to give him some information without Mr. Konitzer’s knowledge, and that’s how he figured out that there was an amount of money missing.

Q. Okay. But at some point did he say to you words to the effect, “I’m hiring a top-flight investigative firm to investigate all of these people, because I think they’re stealing from Michael Jackson”?

A. No.

MR. AUCHINCLOSS: Objection; hearsay.

THE COURT: Overruled.

THE WITNESS: No, he did not. We were on the phone. And he told me to call his managing partner and ask him to begin an investigation into these people.

Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Okay.

A. And I sent an e-mail to the managing partner and said, “David asked me to e-mail — to contact you and,” you know, “begin an investigation.”

Q. In fact, you were repeatedly complaining, “You’ve got to get these people away from Mr. Jackson”?

A. Absolutely, I was.

Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: And you went to Mr. Jackson’s mother’s home, and you met with Jermaine and his mother to tell them that these people were taking advantage of Mr. Jackson, and Mr. Jackson appears to be nowhere to be seen, right?

A. I went to tell them that I was concerned about the association between these people and Mr. Jackson, yes, I did.

.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2015 12:48 pm

    John Branca “doing business with Sony while representing MJ”,proved by emails that talks about a John Branca looking to work for sony/offering his service to sony/representing sony ,while representing/working for/owning at the same time MJ

    http://m.imgur.com/wjm02rr

    Like

  2. February 26, 2015 12:48 pm

    John Branca “doing business with Sony while representing MJ” , proved by emails that talks about a John Branca looking to work for sony/offering his service to sony/representing sony , while representing/working for/owning at the same time MJ

    http://m.imgur.com/wjm02rr

    Like

  3. February 25, 2015 5:48 pm

    There is nothing normal in pointing finger to any other lawyer and busine$$ advisor that have been around Michael Jackson , but ignore the lawyer , John Branca, that owns MJ in death. There is any sort of excuse to point finger at any other lawyer and business associate with the goal to defend Branca and not questioning anything Branca did and he keeps doing around MJ.

    I want to see how many people will ignore this fact regarding John Branca.

    Sony Pictures Music Publishing Catalog administered (is “captive”) by Sony/ATV

    http://www.docdroid.net/oanp/re-music-publishing-revenue.pdf.html

    How does it sounds that Branca contacted SONY Picture, asking them to represent them in selling Sony Picture Music Catalog , catalog captive to Sony/ATV?

    http://www.docdroid.net/oanp/re-music-publishing-revenue.pdf.html

    Didn’t Sony/ATV’s ppl have to give the OK to Sony Pictures for them to be able to sell the Sony Picture Music Publishing Catalog, because the catalog was administered by Sony/ATV?

    How much does it stinks that a lawyer that MJ distrusted and fired for misconduct for doing business with Sony while representing him, is doing the same , while MJ is gone?

    Like

  4. December 21, 2013 3:56 am

    “Just want to point out Estate also filed bogus claims against another fan, details here https://twitter.com/cethomson/status/156521825508134912” – teammichaeljackson

    Taaj, since you posted your comment in two different places I’ll leave the comment here too adding to it what I think about the other fan blocked on Youtube.

    First let me repeat what I said previously.

    Taaj, the Estate may have had a past “history” with you and your blog, but in this case what Web Sheriff is saying is proof of nothing.

    What they essentially said is “remember that you had problems with the Estate? Now we are acting on their behalf again and want you to pull down the AEG transcripts as Sony/Epic/the Estate are the copyright holders of them”.

    But this is CRAZY if you come to think of it. Especially when there is no proof that the Estate ever approached them in this respect – no signatures, no nothing.

    Provocations are made in exactly this way. If X wants to damage Y they usually don’t do it openly, but by someone’s else hands, so the best way for them is to shift all the blame to a third party – for example Z.

    They simply say that they are acting on their behalf though this Z may not even know about it. All provocations are made that way as it helps to do away with both parties at once. Killing two birds with one stone. It channels people’s anger in the wrong direction and both Y and Z are done away with while the real culprit is enjoying all the fruit of it.

    My many years of trying to sort out his nasty business around Michael Jackson have shown that the people we are dealing with do not take simple and straightforward decisions – there are devilishly cunning. So don’t jump to conclusions and try to be more cautious PLEASE.

    It is a really devilish game and if the innocent party suffers it will be a shame.

    And here is my opinion about the fan who bashed the Michael album as he thinks part of the songs are sung by Malachi and about deletion of his respective Youtube video.

    First of all I generally like the Michael album and I don’t think that the Cascios involved themselves in a fraud. They are simply not that kind of people.

    Second, I do not rule out that those songs were half ready and at least some parts of songs had to be “finished” in whatever way they could be finished. Malachi could be involved on a limited scale, though he could also be attributing to himself the honor as all this obviously flatters him (“Look, he can sing like Michael Jackson”). So which way it really is we don’t know.

    Third, I don’t see the problem with finishing up Michael’s unfinished songs. The same was done with Mozart’s unfinished Requiem and no one died of the shock. The only problem here is that IF it was done it should have been openly announced from the very beginning of it. On the other hand MJ’s fans are absolutely not ready for such announcements – they want only “the real thing”, “the best”, “approved by MJ himself”, etc.

    I don’t see reason behind these perfection statements either. Every composer has finished and unfinished work, and every genius of the past went through these stages – first his finished work was published, then his half-finished pieces were sought after and then even some scraps of his music were doted on. If someone finds an unfinished symphony by Mozart now it will be a world-wide sensation and there will be no dispute whether people should hear it or not.

    Those who think that Michael’s unfinished songs should not be published simply do not appreciate Michael well enough. In my opinion even his half-finished song is better than what we hear now. I am also absolutely dying to know what Michael was thinking about in his last years of his life and consequently what the lyrics of his later songs are.

    The problem of how to finish half-ready songs is another matter. It should be done on a competitive basis, in my opinion, with a possibility of several versions existing simultaneously.

    As to the Estate possibly deleting the Youtube video of this guy I think it is a big mistake. Everyone should be allowed to express their point of view, and blocking others has never done anyone any good. If the Estate wants to really handle the problem they should either talk and explain what they are doing and why, or employ some publicity company which will handle it for them. Keeping silent and blocking others is absolutely no way.

    However in your case I think it wasn’t the Estate. The Estate could not claim a copyright to the AEG transcripts! They are simply not crazy enough to claim a crazy thing like that. However I do know one company for whom those transcripts are indeed detrimental.

    In general lack of freedom of speech in your part of the world and the various tricks preventing people from talking have taken me absolutely unawares – I thought it was employed only by our “political technologists”. Now I see that the same is done on a very wide scale by your media too.

    Recently I involved myself in a discussion with the admin of LawMed website about Michael not being an addict, but after a couple of comments they no longer allowed me to comment with no explanations – suddenly each time “there is no connection with the server”.

    Like

  5. December 21, 2013 2:32 am

    Thank you so much for all your help. Still no reply from Branca or his team, in the past they have replied to me within days. This comment from an email from Web Sheriff further confirms Branca IS behind this latest attack

    “we would be more-than-happy to meet with you in order to discuss the potential settlement of the very extensive claims that our clients’ / principals’ currently and historically have against you in relation to your infringements and activities etc”

    There is no history with Sony or Epic and TeamMichaelJackson.com but there is with Branca which was handled by National Arbitration Forum http://teammichaeljackson.com/mj-estate-executor-attacks-mj-fan

    And this from Sony New York http://www.scribd.com/doc/128044457/sonymusic-v-teammichaeljackson-com

    Just want to point out Estate also filed bogus claims against another fan, details here https://twitter.com/cethomson/status/156521825508134912

    Like

  6. December 21, 2013 2:14 am

    Okunuga.. PLEASE refrain from spreading gossip this is one single thing that a MJ Fan should/would never do. Helen was forwarded the “legal notice” i received. Helen our site is back up http://teammichaeljackson.com/

    Like

  7. November 22, 2013 3:36 pm

    “However…. the scrutiny John Branca is under has less to do with 2003, than his conduct in the days prior to, and years after Michael’s death” – lopsided man

    Lopsided man, I also want to know the truth about Branca. I think that to be able to know it I just need one small step but I cannot make it on my own – someone else should.

    Like

  8. Lopsided Man permalink
    November 21, 2013 7:54 pm

    Insightful article. Thanks Helena.

    However…. the scrutiny John Branca is under has less to do with 2003, than his conduct in the days prior to, and years after Michael’s death (settlement with AEG, siding against Michael’s children and his mother in the wrongful death suit, hiring Joel Katz who was a key player in the fraudulent TII contract, the fake MJ songs, allowing Michael Bush and Julien’s Auctions to sell Michael’s personal belongings with Bush’s fake MJ signature scrawled over them, while he target fans for relatively minor, and non-commercial use of Michael’s pictures, the dubious 2002 will, the possible coverup of a 2003 will, etc….)

    Any one of these actions would be more than enough reason to doubt his integrity.

    Like

  9. Okunuga permalink
    November 21, 2013 12:09 pm

    Helena, from the little info that i’ve read i think teammj site was probarbly suspended because it was alledged that they inflated/padded the numbers of their followers to the judge in the AEG Trial in order to be able to cover the trial and some fans reported them to the SITE OWNERS and they were suspended pending investigations.

    Like

  10. Mariam permalink
    November 21, 2013 12:03 am

    Initially, I decided not to comment about JB anymore, because I am still trying to figure out who he is to MJ after 2003. I am still not quite sure who he is, because there is a lot of circumstances that leads me to believe that his hand is not clean and he seems to me he is after MJ’s catalog/money at the same time, I do not see good evidence to believe he is one of those people.

    Even though, I want to believe JB has interest in heart for MJ that he will care about his kids and his legacy, still big part of my heart do not TRUST him completely.

    There is also info, that Michael Jackson told for quite few people that he did not hire FD and JB but AEG and said MJ was not happy with that, I also read on FC book ”My friend MJ” and Frank said on the book” FD called him and ask him to work with him(FD) on the tour” not MJ, in fact he mentioned on his book he did not speak to few months before he died if I am correct, probably need to check his book again.

    So what I see with all this is, AEG was hiring those people once MJ was avoids them for some reason, and he did not hired them, AEG hired them. Why? To humiliate him? or knowing that those people will be there side (AEG) so that they can control his every movement and he will not have anyone to trust. They isolate him and make him has no friend to turn to, so that they can do whatever they want. Eventually they did whatever they want and they make “Millions of $$$” on him. Those men RP & G are evil, putting someone in this situation is evil.

    Actually, those former employees of MJ got a chance for revenge because he fired them, it was vise verse, they were boss on him and he needs to take their instruction, bullying him. I will never forget what FD said to FK when she was telling him her concern about MJ’s health.

    My Final though is, just wait and see, the truth will come out one day, easier to clear JB’s name or to reveal what really did to MJ. I can not say he is guilty of what was said about him because there is no solid evidence and I also cannot ignore all those situations and pieces or puzzles which are not connected yet.

    I am just cross my finger and hope if JB is there for his longtime friend Michael Jackson legacy and for his kids but nothing else. To be honest, if he is clear from all those allegations, there is no a better person to run MJ’s estate other than JB that I can think of. He would be a better choice of MJ if really MJ want him and decide up to the end.

    Like

  11. WillAlwaysLuvMJ permalink
    November 19, 2013 6:39 pm

    I trust MJ’s father over all those other peopl – afterall, although Joe may have had other issues, he never once cheated Michael, even while his manager from the time he was little and in The Jackson 5, through his time with The Jacksons. And Michael made it clear that Joe never touched his money or tried to cheat him out of it.

    While Branca may not be the worse of the villains who came after MJ’s money, he is still another villanous vampire who was (and is) after MJ’s money. Branca is doing an excellent job of making himself look like an innocent angel and friend of Michael, but I believe he knows just what to do and say to keep control of MJs money.

    Like

  12. simba permalink
    November 19, 2013 5:55 pm

    This is valuable and interesting information, and hopefully one day it will be published in a book. But while it illustrates that Michael Jackson was surrounded by unethical incompetents, it has no bearing on whether in 2009, John Branca colluded with Frank Dileo and AEG to enrich himself at MJ’s expense. The fact that Konitzer and Weizner were clumsier than a highly-experienced lawyer is not a surprise.

    David LeGrand’s opinion is not what mattered. Even if Branca had been pure as the driven snow in 2003, bottom line, MJ fired him, for whatever reason, hunch, or whim. Apparently you are trying to make the case that MJ was wrong to do so. It doesn’t matter. It was MJ’s call.

    Like

  13. Okunuga permalink
    November 19, 2013 4:26 am

    Amazing job Helena, this post certainly put some of Michael’s huge debts in perceptive on how he starts accumulating them and who are the people around him them.and i have this feeling that most of the anti ESTATE/BRANCA commentators would not comment on this or sidestep all your points and still continue to bash Branca unnecessarily and without prove except their usual mantra of the WILL is fake.

    Like

  14. Nan permalink
    November 18, 2013 10:52 pm

    Great information Helena..Unbelievable how Ann Kite , who had so little experience, almost immediately came to the conclusion these people were robbing MJ blind,,I have seen pictures of Prince Jackson with his grandfather and Weisner in Germany, after MJ had passed…These people shouldn’t be anywhere near MJ kids., or his money,, but like Mr Mesereau said, people were always trying to get their nose under the tent, and in MJ business ..

    All this info regarding Michaels finances, hard to believe this all came in because of the Arvizo kids ridiculous accusations. , .

    Like

  15. November 18, 2013 4:16 pm

    Great article Helena, Marvel would have been like the Sony ATV Catalog of comics. That would have definitely been a good investment had the funds been going where they were supposed to. It’s sad this type of information circulates and the only person getting attacked is Branca.

    A friend was telling me that a while back Michael wanted to help build an amusement park in Detroit before all the casinos were built but the mayor at the time rejected it. This would have attracted people and money to the city – but now look how broke they are- Michael would have saved Detroit.

    Like

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