M.O.N.E.Y: The Extortion of Michael Jackson

A fascinating new discovery is sure to overwhelm you with info you didn’t already know. I stumbled upon this fantastic article at Reflections On The Dance a few days ago and needless to say, it’s extremely eye-opening. The article was written by a fan and an attorney who, as a duo, set out to expose what really went down concerning Michael’s 1993 extortion case.

http://www.reflectionsonthedance.com/TheExtortionofMichaelJackson.html

Note: This entry, being quite lengthy in its entirety, has been broken up, therefore  more will be posted in later days.  I will add some comentary here and there which will be noted with an [e.a.], for emphasis added, or with bold italics. Today’s entry will begin at M.O.N.E.Y.: The Extortion of Michael Jackson, and will stop at Evan Chandler.

M.O.N.E.Y: The Extortion of Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was an enigma, to say the least.  Much has been written analyzing everything from his psyche to his appearance to his talent, and there are opinions across the board about the allegations of molestation leveled against him during his life.  Fan sites abound with opinionated and impassioned statements and articles about his innocence, most of which simply proclaim that he was found not guilty in a court of law. But there are countless details—including FBI files released in December 2009, court records, and public records—that offer a more well-rounded and supportable claim of innocence against all the charges, not just those in the criminal case.

Lisa:  I was never a big Michael Jackson fan.  However, having been born in the early 1970’s, Michael’s music was always in the background, always there to be heard and enjoyed.  On June 25, 2009, the only news I had received was that Farah Fawcett’s long battle with cancer was finally over.  When I returned home after work that evening, I logged on to Yahoo and was horrified by the headline “Michael Jackson Is Dead.”  I began to text my husband, trying to multitask by running through the news channels at the same time.  I watched CNBC, Fox News, CNN, and whatever channel happened to be broadcasting information about Michael’s untimely demise.  As the world knows, the media coverage about Michael was non-stop, with everyone seemingly having an opinion about every aspect of Michael’s life and death.  After many weeks of following the story, I continued to be struck by the fact that while so many mourned, so many others made cruel jokes.  The dichotomy of feelings engendered by this man was fascinating, albeit in a horrifying way.

Back in 1993, when the first allegations were made public, I was in college.  I didn’t really read the accounts of what was happening, but I knew the basic allegations, and for some reason, they didn’t sit well with me.  Even after the settlement, I didn’t believe that Michael Jackson had committed the alleged acts. 

In 2005, I was sucked into the media reports and thought that Michael was going to jail.  Again, I did not believe the allegations, but the evidence being reported at the time was so overwhelming that it seemed a foregone conclusion.  When he was found not guilty of all 14 counts of the criminal complaint on June 13, 2005, I completely understood why Michael chose to leave his home country.

However, Michael’s death made me want to delve into the evidence of all the allegations against him in order to determine what really transpired in 1993, and then again ten years later.  With some apprehension, I plowed into the research.  Once I started even the most basic search I was stunned by how little evidence there was against Michael—both in the allegations of Jordie Chandler and the court case of Gavin Arvizo.  I was also confounded that so few credible journalists came to the aid of Michael Jackson, reporting anything other than salacious allegations.

Christy: My husband walked into my office in the afternoon of June 25, 2009, and said, “It’s a bad day to be a celebrity.” At my puzzled look, he said, “Farrah Fawcett died.  And so did Michael Jackson.”  I was stunned.  I skipped right over the Farrah Fawcett news; while I certainly was sorry for what she’d endured, her illness was no secret, and in many ways I was grateful that her suffering was over. But Michael Jackson… that caught my attention.  Like millions of others, I immediately became glued to the TV and the Internet, trying to discern fact from fiction.  After Thriller, I had lost track of Michael Jackson over the years, not really paying attention to his music or to his life—although it was hard to miss the sensational stories the tabloids frequently ran on their covers every time he dared to venture out.  But as I listened to the reports, like Lisa, I was struck by how judgmental and unkind so many people were. I asked my husband if he thought Michael Jackson was a pedophile; he didn’t believe so. I didn’t either, but I didn’t know why I didn’t believe so. Neither of us had followed the 2005 criminal trial in any depth, so I thought perhaps that was why we weren’t inclined to believe the worst. My curious nature got the best of me, and I donned my ‘investigator’ hat and went to work. With so much information available at my fingertips, it was pretty simple to dig deeper.

I began with that bastion of celebrity, Vanity Fair. When I began my research, I had great respect for Maureen Orth, a National Magazine Award-winning journalist and widow of Tim Russert, the famous host of NBC’s Meet the Press. I knew Ms. Orth had covered celebrities for VF, and after only a few keystrokes, I had copies of all of her articles on Michael Jackson.  As I began to read, a sense of horror came over me.  Sentence after sentence screamed, “bias.” I was appalled at the bias in the reporting, the evident lack of concern about concealing that bias, and at the poor writing and editing.

A Note About Our Sources

For those who take the time to plow into the formidable amount of material that exists on the allegations against Michael Jackson, the first thing you notice is the lack of evidence [e.a.]. It’s just not there, which we’ll point out in great detail in the following pages.  What you’ll also notice is that almost no credible journalists came to his aid during this time.

Throughout this article, we’ve cited various books and publications written about Michael Jackson, including the book that Diane Dimond wrote.  While most people agree that Diane Dimond is a tabloid journalist, meeting all the derogatory descriptions inherent in that title, we’ve included her book on Jackson as a reference.  The reason?  She claims to be the ‘expert’ on the allegations against Michael, saying that she’s spent years researching the topic.  It’s interesting to note that we’ve used her extensive research and her book to disprove the allegations that she set out to prove.  The irony does not escape us.

Lisa is an attorney, and she put her legal expertise to work here, poring through court transcripts and the recently released FBI files about Michael Jackson.  She was able to cull relevant and frequently unreported evidence, and it’s included here.  Dozens of books and articles about the allegations also served as source material, and it’s our hope that this article will give readers a well-rounded view of the many false accusations leveled against Michael, as well as the complete lack of evidence behind those allegations.

On the surface, it may seem reasonable that no credible journalists reported anything positive about this case; molesting a child is a heinous crime whose victim is more often than not silenced by the abusing adult.  On the other hand, an accusation such as that is almost impossible to overcome; and in Hollywood—where image is the only thing—it’s poison.  No one wants to be associated with even a hint of something so scandalous. Not surprisingly, the rich and famous, playing to type, turned their backs on Michael Jackson. Or, if they supported him they did so quietly, not in front of a camera or to a journalist. Even his self-proclaimed biographer, J. Randy Taraborrelli, who attended the trial and must have heard the evidence—or lack thereof—stated that the “testimony had been damning.” In actuality, nothing could have been further from the truth.  And the jury happened to notice.

It is our hope that learning the truth will clear the name of one who was devastatingly wronged for doing nothing more than sharing his talent with the world. He wanted to bring love to people wherever he went, and rather than recognize that gift for what it was, the world in which he lived turned it into something dirty and base.  Michael Jackson should be vindicated, and it’s tragic that it didn’t happen while he was alive to know of it. But his children are still alive, and their father’s legacy needs to move forward untainted by the false accusations that ultimately led to his demise.

So let’s start at the beginning….

All Michael wanted was a true, innocent friendship... and look what he got in return

Jordan Chandler (Jordie Chandler)

Michael met Jordie in the summer of 1992 when his car broke down near a Rent-A-Wreck in West Los Angeles, which was at the time owned by Jordie’s stepfather, David Schwartz.  June Chandler, Jordie’s mother, testified at the 2005 trial that Jordie had been a fan of Michael Jackson, and that Jordie liked to dress like Michael—wearing a “sparkly jacket” and a single glove—and dance like Michael at parties.[i]  So when Michael arrived at the Rent-A-Wreck, David Schwartz was not only happy to help him, but he also asked Michael to wait for his wife to bring Jordie to meet him.  Michael acquiesced, and he and Jordie and June met for the first time.  June gave Michael their home phone number and suggested that Michael call Jordie.  Michael first called the Chandler house one or two months after the initial meeting.[ii]  At the time of the call, Michael was on a European tour promoting the Dangerous album; that leg of the tour went on hiatus on December 31, 1992.

In February 1993, June, Jordie, and his half-sister Lily, made their first visit to Neverland, with June driving the family there from Los Angeles.[iii]  The three stayed in one of the guest cottages for two nights and enjoyed the rides and amusements at Neverland.  The second trip to Neverland was made a week or two after the first.  Jordie, Lily, and June later became regulars at Michael’s Neverland Ranch; this was particularly true when June and David separated. 

In addition to trips to Neverland, Michael stayed at Mrs. Chandler’s home approximately 30 nights from the middle of April 1993 through the end of May 1993.[iv]  The family had also been to Michael’s “hideout” apartment in Century City.  She was always present with her son when Michael stayed in her home or when they were at the Century City apartment.[v]  The Chandlers also traveled with Michael; June testified to a two- or three-day trip to the Mirage in Las Vegas in March 1993,[vi] and she and her children also traveled to Disney World in Orlando and to New York with Michael in April 1993.[vii]

It was during the trip to Las Vegas that Michael and Jordie slept in the same bed for the first time.  According to June Chandler:

A. I was told Jordan and Michael watched an Exorcist movie.

Q. All right.  Did you ever object to Jordie sleeping in Michael’s room on that trip?

A. Yes.

Q. And what did you say?

A. “Jordie, when you come home, go to your bed.  Go to your own bed. Come to our bed, not to Michael’s bed.”  He said, “Mom, I want to stay there.”  And I was very upset about that.

Q. Now, this was before the approximately 30 nights that he stayed at your home –

A. Yes.

Q. — in Santa Monica, right?

A. Correct.

Q. And you did allow him to stay at your home in Santa Monica, right?

A. Afterwards.[viii]

Evan Chandler

Jordie’s father (June’s ex-husband) Evan Chandler, was a practicing dentist and an aspiring screenwriter.  Evan had re-married a woman named Monique, and the couple had a son named Nikki.  In April of 1993, Evan did some checking up on Jordie’s new friend, Michael.  According to Evan’s April 16, 1993, diary entry, Evan asked his patient Carrie Fisher to contact Dr. Arnold Klein to request information about Michael.[ix]  According to the diary entry, Dr. Klein said that Michael was perfectly straight and that Evan had nothing to worry about.[x](Really? Wasn’t it just a couple of months ago Klein was trying to paint Michael in hmm… shall we say a homosexual light? Crock.)  In May of 1993, Evan began to become friendly with Michael.  He evidently liked being Michael’s friend and enjoyed the attendant limelight.

Evan Chandler’s claim to fame was that he co-wrote the movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights with Mel Brooks in 1992.  The original concept and some of the imaginative input into the screenplay can be credited to Jordie Chandler, who was 11 years old at the time.[xi]  Jordie’s input was confirmed by his mother, who suggested that it would have been nice had Evan given his son $5,000 for the work that he contributed to the script.[xii]

According to Evan Chandler’s diary dated “May 7 or 8,” 1993:

I went to the house to see Jordie, but they were in such a hurry we didn’t have time to talk.  June showed me the $7,000 first-class tickets Michael had sent over [for the trip to Monaco].  I was happy for her—a man was finally treating her good.  Jordie looked great and acted the same as always.  I had no suspicions.[xiii]  As they drove away I remember thinking how great it would be if June divorced Dave and married Michael.  She would finally have a great life with someone who treated her with respect.[xiv] 

On May 9, 1993, Michael and his entourage checked into the Winston Churchill Suite of the Hotel de Paris in Monaco.  The group consisted of eight people: Michael; the Chandlers (June, Jordie, and Lily); Michael’s publicist, Bob Jones; and four bodyguards. On May 10, 1993, Michael had dinner with Prince Albert.  On May 12, 1993, he attended the World Music Awards with the Chandlers.[xv]  On May 13, 1993, the group traveled to Disneyland Paris.  They returned to California on May 16, 1993.

On May 18, 1993, Michael received two awards for “Black or White” and “Remember the Time” at the 41st BMI Annual Pop Awards Dinner at the Regency Beverly Wiltshire Hotel in Los Angeles.  At the time, “Black or White” and “Remember the Time” were the two most performed songs of the year.  On May 19, 1993, Michael received the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guinness Book of Records at the Guinness Museum of World Records in Los Angeles.

Amidst his busy schedule, on May 22, 1993, to the astonishment of guests, Michael attended Nikki Chandler’s birthday party at the Chandler home.[xvi]  At the time, Evan said, [w]ho wouldn’t want his kid to be Michael Jackson’s pal?”[xvii]  Michael spent the next two nights at the Chandler home, sleeping on a cot in a room with both Nikki and Jordie.[xviii]  Michael stayed at Evan’s house between four and seven consecutive days.[xix]

However, it’s important to mention that it was prior to this May 22nd visit that Evan allegedly first questioned Michael about the nature of his relationship with Jordie.  In early May 1993, Evan claimed that he asked Michael whether he was having sex with Jordie, which is an interesting way to phrase such a question, given the obvious disparity in age between Jordie and Michael.[xx]  Despite his alleged suspicions, Evan not only permitted, but he also encouraged, Michael to spend nights at his home and in the same room with both sons Jordie and Nikki [e.a.].

One has to wonder why Evan would have encouraged the friendship with Michael if he had truly been concerned about the relationship.  In fact, Evan did more than encourage; he suggested that Michael build an addition to his house so that Michael could spend even more time with Jordie under the aegis of the Chandler home(Parenting 101). Zoning restrictions apparently prevented such an addition, so Evan suggested that Michael purchase a larger home for the Chandlers so that he could stay there regularly. While the exact dates of the housing discussion aren’t known, presumably they occurred after Michael first stayed in Evan Chandler’s home.  June confirmed that these statements were true.[xxi]

By June 1993, Evan had already gone to attorney Barry Rothman and had begun to hatch a plot to extort money from Michael based upon a claim of sexual abuse of Jordie.  What remained to be seen was whether June Chandler would be complicit in Evan’s plan.

At the end of June 1993, Jordie was going to graduate from the seventh grade.  Originally he planned to attend a year-end dance with his peers.  However, he abruptly announced that instead of attending the dance, he had chosen to make plans to spend the evening with Michael.[xxii]  At graduation in June 1993, beginning to lay the groundwork for his plan, Evan expressed his concerns about Jordie’s relationship with Michael.  According to June Chandler’s attorney, Michael Freeman, “[s]he thought the whole thing was baloney.”[xxiii]  In fact, she told Evan that she and the children had been invited to accompany Michael on his Dangerous tour and would be leaving on August 15, 1993.[xxiv] (Based on Evan’s earlier response to the trip the family took with Michael to Monaco—where he expressed happiness for their good fortune, according to his diary—June had no reason to fear that Evan would take issue with their plans.)  But when June made Evan aware of the August 15 date, she inadvertently gave him a deadline by which to enact his plot.  Accompanying Michael would mean taking the children out of school and having them taught by private tutors, which gave Evan the premise of saying that Michael was having a negative effect on his family. Evan was later recorded saying, “[Jackson] broke up the family.  [Jordan] has been seduced by this guy’s power and money.”

That comment was made during a private telephone conversation with David Schwartz, Jordie’s stepfather, on July 8, 1993.[xxv]  When read in its entirety, this conversation is revealing for a number of reasons.  One gets the impression that Evan Chandler felt slighted and ignored—and probably intimidated—by the relationship Michael had with his ex-wife and son(What happened to wanting June to divorce Dave so she could marry Michael?) During the conversation, Evan seems to go from being frustrated with being ignored (evidently his phone calls to June and Michael had been unreturned); to feeling “put out” that “they” have been putting him through so much (he doesn’t elaborate on what exactly he’s been put through); to vindictive, saying that after the meeting he had scheduled for the next day between Michael, Jordie, June, Dave, and himself, if they didn’t respond they way he wanted them to, he was going to enact a plan to destroy everyone involved—except himself.  At the time, David Schwartz was attempting to determine the reason for the meeting Evan was demanding that they all attend on July 9, 1993.  The tape was released to the public on September 2, 1993.[xxvi]

Some of the highlights of the conversation include Evan saying:

I had a good communication with Michael,  . . .  [w]e were friends.  I liked him and I respected him and everything else for what he is.  There was no reason why he had to stop calling me.  I sat in the room one day and talked to Michael and told him exactly what I want out of this whole relationship.  What I want. (So, in approaching someone you want to be friends with, make sure you really try to intimidate them so that you two will be even MORE inseparable!) 

During her 2005 trial testimony, June Chandler admitted that she had told the DA in 1993 that Evan said the relationship with Michael was a wonderful means of Jordie not having to worry for the rest of his life.  But in 2005, she declined to explain what Evan meant, claiming that she could only offer speculation about his comments.[xxvii]

In the same taped conversation, when asked how Chandler’s confrontation would affect his son, Chandler replied:

[t]hat’s irrelevant to me… It will be a massacre if I don’t get what I want.  It’s going to be bigger than all us put together… This man [Jackson] is going to be humiliated beyond belief… He will not sell one more record [e,a.].

“If I go through with this, I win big-time.  There’s no way I lose.  I will get everything I want and they will be destroyed forever.  June is gonna lose Jordy.  She will have no right to see him again.” [e.a.]

After hearing the tape recording, Michael said, “I knew then and there that it was extortion.  He said it right on the tape.”[xxviii]  Michael then turned the matter over to his attorney, Bert Fields and Field’s investigator, Anthony Pellicano.[xxix] 

Pellicano has been referred to as the “private eye to the stars”[xxx] In addition to Michael Jackson, his client roster included such names as Chris Rock, Tom Cruise, and Yoko Ono.  He liked being known as a tough guy, and he played his role to the hilt.  According to Bert Fields, “He came up with stuff that other people didn’t. He did that over and over again. He was just better.”[xxxi]  In 2008, law enforcement officials discovered hundreds of hours of illegally wiretapped conversations that Pellicano taped out of a small, secure room he called “the Bat-cave.”  In December of 2008, after being found guilty on 78 counts that included wiretapping and racketeering, Pellicano was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.[xxxii] But in 1993, when he was working on the Michael Jackson case, Pellicano was simply viewed as the best private investigator in Hollywood to have on your side.  He was savvy, and he had a reputation for getting at the truth.

On July 9, 1993, instead of meeting with Evan Chandler, Dave Schwartz and June Chandler played the tape recording for Pellicano.  Pellicano subsequently interviewed Jordie Chandler on July 10, 1993, asking specific questions about whether Michael Jackson had molested him.[xxxiii]  Pellicano has stated that Jordie repeatedly denied that any acts of molestation had occurred; in fact, Jordie denied that he had ever seen Michael naked. [e.a.][xxxiv]  The investigator was satisfied with the interview. Based on his reputation, had Pellicano had reason to believe something untoward had occurred between Jordie and Michael, he would have taken steps to hide it.  His nickname in Hollywood is the ‘sin eater.’[xxxv]  He did no such thing, but rather, became Michael’s ally in confronting the extortionist.

[i] These facts are derived from June Chandler’s trial testimony in 2005.  See, p. 5603.

[ii] Ibid. at pp. 5603-5604.

[iii] Ibid. at p. 5604.

[iv] Ibid at p. 5696.

[v] Ibid at pp. 5677-5678.

[vi] Ibid at p. 5683.

[vii] Ibid at p. 5684.

[viii] Ibid at p. 5696.

[ix]Carrie Fisher spent Michael’s last Christmas with Michael, his children, and Dr. Arnold Klein, http://www.starpulse.com/news/index.php/2009/07/10/michael_jackson_s_star_wars_christmas_1

[x] Dimond, Diane.  Be Careful Who You Love, p. 51 (Atria Books 2005).

[xi] Galbraith, Jane, “Toothy Tales of Hollywood. . . Script Dentist!”, Los Angeles Times, June 13, 1993.

[xii] Trial transcript at p. 5710.

[xiii] Use of the past tense suggests that Evan wrote this diary much later than the dates indicated.

[xiv] Dimond, Diane.  Be Careful Who You Love, pp. 51-52 (Atria Books 2005).

[xv] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VlNC_EXjxA&NR=1

[xvi] Taraborelli, J. Randy.  Michael Jackson: The Magic, the Madness, the Whole Story p. 469 (Grand Central Publishing 2009).

[xvii] Ibid, pp. 469-470 .

[xviii] Ibid, p. 470.

[xix] June Chandler trial testimony at p. 5693.

[xx] Taraborelli, J. Randy.  Michael Jackson: The Magic, the Madness, the Whole Story p. 469 (Grand Central Publishing 2009).

[xxi] Trial transcript at p. 5693.

[xxii] Taraborelli, J. Randy.  Michael Jackson: The Magic, the Madness, the Whole Story p. 473 (Grand Central Publishing 2009).

[xxiii] Fischer, Mary A.  Was Michael Jackson Framed? GQ Magazine (1994).

[xxiv] Dimond, Diane.  Be Careful Who You Love, p. 57 (Atria Books 2005).

[xxv] Dave Schwartz tape recorded the phone call because Evan was violent and erratic in a June 8, 1993 conversation between the two men.  Schwartz called Chandler the next day armed with a tape recorder.   The transcript of the call can be read in its entirety at http://www.mjfiles.com/allegations/david-schwartz-evan-chandler-transcript-full/

[xxvi] Thomas, Karen.  “Jackson camp airs tape in media offensive” USA Today, 2 Sept. 1993.

[xxvii] Trial transcript at p. 5961.

[xxviii] Taraborelli, J. Randy. Michael Jackson: The Magic, the Madness, the Whole Story p. 479 (Grand Central Publishing 2009).

[xxix] Ibid.

[xxx] Time.com, 2-Min. Bio by Bilbert Cruz, Sunday, December 14, 2008. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1866315,00.html

[xxxi] The New Yorker, July 24, 2006

[xxxii] Time.com, 2-Min. Bio by Bilbert Cruz, Sunday, December 14, 2008.

[xxxiii] Taraborelli, J. Randy. Michael Jackson: The Magic, the Madness, the Whole Story p. 480 (Grand Central Publishing 2009).

[xxxiv] Ibid, p. 481.

[xxxv] Time.com, 2-Min. Bio by Bilbert Cruz, Sunday, December 14, 2008. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1866315,00.html

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