The Conspiracy Charge

The conspiracy charge was one of the charges brought against Michael Jackson in 2005. The prosecution’s initial felony complaint in December 2003 [1] did not include this charge, it was later added, after the Grand Jury hearings, and this addition is related to the problem of explaining the timeline of the allegations.

Like we discussed in detail in the previous chapter the Arvizos initially claimed that Jackson started molesting Gavin as soon as they returned from Miami with Jackson, on February 7, 2003. This claim however later changed to the claim that Jackson started molesting Gavin after February 20 – so after the Arvizo family gave an interview to the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services and after the taping of a video on which the Arvizos are seen happily praising Jackson.

The conspiracy charge claimed that between February 1 and March 31, 2003 Jackson conspired with Ronald Konitzer, Dieter Wiesner, Frank Cascio, Vinnie Amen, Marc Schaffel and other unnamed co-conspirators to abduct Gavin Arvizo and to falsely imprison the Arvizo family. Even though the charge names five alleged co-conspirators the prosecution did not indict any of them, their only target was Michael Jackson. So these people remained “unindicted co-conspirators” throughout the process. This meant that these five potentially important defense witnesses were discouraged from testifying for the defense under the threat of retaliatory prosecution against them if they do.

According to prosecution theory, the reason for this alleged abduction and false imprisonment was to force the Arvizo family to participate in the so called “rebuttal” video. However, as we have shown in the previous chapter, the Arvizo family did not seem to be under duress at all while they were shooting the rebuttal video. In actuality, in 2005 in Court Gavin testified that on February 20, when they shot the “rebuttal video” and when they were interviewed by the DCFS, they still considered Jackson to be a good person and they had no problem praising him. His mother Janet Arvizo also testified that she was willing to say positive things about Jackson on camera in the rebuttal video:

Were you willing to say something at that time that was positive –

Yes.

— about Michael Jackson?

I was.

At that time, did you have anything to say about Michael Jackson that was negative?

No.

Did you tell him you’d be willing to do that?

Yes. [2]

This makes the conspiracy allegation confusing. Why would Jackson need to abduct and falsely imprison a family to do a rebuttal tape (that eventually was not even included in the finished documentary) when they were freely willing to participate in it and willing to say positive things about him anyway?

The Arvizo family claimed in their conspiracy allegation that they escaped from their Neverland “captivity” three times. The first alleged “escape” happened shortly after they returned from Miami on February 7. One night Janet Arvizo asked Jackson’s ranch manager, Jesus Salas to take them home to Los Angeles, which he did. Moreover according to Janet Arvizo’s own claims in her police interview on July 6-7, 2003, Marie Nicole Cascio assisted them in their “escape”:

“She described running in the dark through Neverland, being led by Marie Nicole, to find her way to the car. Mrs. Arvizo was unable to recall exact dates of events during this period. She stated that there were no clocks or calendars at Neverland and she would lose track of the date.” (page 25) [3]

Marie Nicole Cascio is the sister of Frank Cascio, one of the alleged “kidnappers”.

According to the Arvizo family there were no clocks at Neverland…

According to the Arvizo family there were no clocks at Neverland…

Janet Arvizo explained her “escaping” with the fact that she did not like two of Jackson’s people, Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer, whom she called “the Germans”, and felt intimidated by them. After Frank Cascio promised her that the Germans would not be at Neverland any more, she and her children returned. However, the Germans were still at Neverland, so Janet Arvizo “escaped” again, this time on her own, leaving her children behind, asking Jackson’s bodyguard, Chris Carter to take her to Jay Jackson’s house, which he did. Shortly after Janet Arvizo’s “escape” her children were taken home as well.

Both of these alleged “escapes” happened within a couple of days after they returned from Miami on February 7. The third occasion that was characterized as an “escape” by Janet Arvizo was when the Arvizos left Neverland for good on March 12. Once again the “escape” was not met with resistance from Jackson’s people – in fact, Janet Arvizo just asked Vinnie Amen, Frank Cascio’s friend and closest colleague, one of the Arvizos’ alleged “kidnappers”, to take them to the home of Janet Arvizo’s parents and he did.

Jackson and his people apparently were suspicious of the Arvizos and of how they may use the media frenzy resulting from the Bashir documentary for their benefit. The media at this point tried to contact the Arvizos and Jackson already had experience with the practices of the tabloid media and what effect the temptation of tabloid money can have on people (for examples see the chapter The Media’s Role In The Allegations Against Michael Jackson). Please keep in mind that this is all before the alleged molestation of Gavin. The fact that Jackson did not trust this family from the beginning is apparent from the fact that he tried to keep his distance from them, as described by even Gavin himself in Court. For this reason Jackson’s people did keep an eye on the Arvizo family, but there was no “imprisonment” or “kidnapping” as you will see below.

Gavin’s mother Janet Arvizo also complained about Jackson’s people keeping her away from the star during their stay at Neverland. The following exchange is from the testimony of Jesus Salas, a prosecution witness, who served as a housekeeper at Jackson’s Neverland ranch. Prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss tried to get Salas say that Janet Arvizo complained about her children being kept away from her, but Salas made it clear that the woman did not complain about her children, but about Jackson being kept away from her:

You also said that Janet complained about being separated from Michael, that Dieter was separating her from Michael. Yes?

Yes. That was her expression, yes.

Didn’t she say that she was — didn’t she complain that Dieter was separating her from Michael Jackson and her children?

Not exactly what she said. She said that she was being separated from Michael.

Okay. But didn’t she reference her children when she was talking about that?

MR. MESEREAU: Objection; asked and answered.

THE COURT: Sustained.

BY MR. AUCHINCLOSS: You say “not exactly.” What do you mean?

She never mentioned the kids.

Did she ever complain about being separated from her kids?

No, sir. [4]

There are further problems with the conspiracy charge. Receipts and testimonies showed that during their alleged captivity the Arvizos went shopping several times, talked to Child Protective Services because of the Bashir documentary, talked to doctors, visited a lawyer William Dickerman to stop the media from using the Arvizo children’s likeness and photos, and appeared in a Court with another lawyer Michael Manning regarding a child support debate, yet they never reported to authorities, their lawyers, the doctors or to anyone that they were allegedly being kidnapped and held against their will at Neverland.

Here is a list of the Arvizo family’s excursions during their alleged captivity between February 7 and March 12:

Receipts showed that on February 11 the mother, Janet Arvizo went to a beauty salon to get a leg wax. On the stand she claimed that this was the idea of Jackson’s people, “the Germans” (Ronald Konitzer and Dieter Wiesner) as PR for Michael Jackson. During that trip she never mentioned being kept captive to anyone. [2]

Some time between February 12 and 15 first Janet Arvizo then her children too leave Neverland (characterized later as their second “escape”). They stay at the home of Janet Arvizo’s boyfriend, Major Jay Jackson. Jay Jackson was an army officer and had no relation to Michael Jackson. While staying at her boyfriend’s house for several days, neither Janet Arvizo or her boyfriend contacted authorities or anyone to report that they had allegedly been held captive at Neverland. In actuality recorded phone conversations showed that during this time Janet Arvizo was on the phone with Michael Jackson’s personal assistant Frank Cascio several times and the conversations were very friendly – Janet Arvizo even called Cascio’s family her family. From Janet Arvizo’s cross-examination at the 2005 trial:

BY MR. MESEREAU: Now, you’re telling Frank that you love his family, correct?

Yes.

You’re telling Frank that, in effect, “We’re all family,” right?

Yes. Because of Michael’s initial lovey-dovey meeting.

Just please answer my question, Miss Arvizo. The prosecutor will then ask you whatever he wants. I just want direct answers to my questions, all right? Is that all right with you?

If you could simplify the questions, that would be easier for me.

I will try to make them as clear as I can. And if you don’t understand, don’t answer me. Just ask me to try and restate it. Okay?

Okay. That’s fair enough.

You told Frank Cascio in this conversation,“We’re all family,” true?

I said, “It’s like we’re family.” True.

Did that mean in your mind that your family, Frank’s family, and Mr. Jackson’s family were all united?

Let me see. It says right here, “I love you so much. You don’t know how much I love your little sister and your little brother.” That’s what it said.

And then later on, it says, “It’s like we’re family, you know, Frank?”

Yeah.

Okay.

“Like we’re family.”

And when you said that you meant it, true?

Yes, I believed what he said in the initial meeting in Miami. [2]

On February 16 Bradley Miller, a private investigator working for Jackson’s lawyer Mark Geragos conducted and tape recorded an interview with Janet Arvizo in Jay Jackson’s home. On the tape Janet Arvizo does not mention she or her children being “kidnapped” or being held captive by either Jackson or his people, nor any other wrongdoing by Jackson. In fact she says nothing but nice things about him. In Court in 2005 Janet Arvizo said of that interview:

All right. And you said nice things about Mr. Jackson, did you not?

Yes, I did.

And did you believe those things at that time?

Yes, I did.

You would have said those things even if he hadn’t rewound the tape-recorder?

That’s right. [2]

On February 20 the Arvizos got a visit from the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services at Major Jay Jackson’s home. They interviewed Janet Arvizo and her children because a teacher from Gavin’s school filed a complaint over the claim in the Bashir documentary that Gavin had slept in Jackson’s bed. Again, the Arvizos said nothing but positive things about Jackson. They denied molestation and never claimed that they had been supposedly “kidnapped” or held against their will. [2]

The next day, on February 21, while her children went back to Neverland, Janet Arvizo visited a civil case lawyer William Dickerman who was offered to her by Jamie Masada. Janet Arvizo denied meeting Dickerman on February 21 in her testimony, but Dickerman in his own testimony stated they first met on February 21. Then they met again on February 25 – on this both testimonies agreed. During none of these visits Janet Arvizo mentioned to the lawyer that they were supposedly kidnapped or being held captive at Neverland, nor did the lawyer report any such thing to any authority. According to Janet Arvizo she contacted Dickerman because she wanted him to stop the media from using her children’s likeness and photos in their publications and on their programs. [2] [5]

On February 25 Gavin had a doctor’s appointment and the Arvizo family also went to visit Jamie Masada at the Laugh Factory. Again they never mentioned to the doctor or anyone that they had allegedly been held captive at Neverland and no one reported any such claims to authorities. [2]

Between February 25 and March 2 the Arvizo family stayed at a hotel in Calabasas with Frank Cascio and Vinnie Amen. During this period and also during their stay at Neverland, as receipts show, they went shopping several times. During these shoppings they never alerted anyone that that they had allegedly been held captive. [2]

Some time during this period in February-March, while allegedly being held captive, the Arvizos also went to see a dentist to have the braces removed from Gavin’s and Star’s teeth. Again, they never mentioned to the dentist or anyone that they were allegedly being kept against their will at Neverland. [2]

On March 11 the Arvizos appeared in a Court regarding a child support debate with Janet Arvizo’s ex-husband David Arvizo. They were accompanied by another one of their lawyers, Michael Manning. They never reported to either the lawyer or the Court that they were allegedly being kidnapped and held against their will at Neverland. [2]

So as you can see the Arvizos had several opportunities to report their alleged captivity to authorities, a court, lawyers, doctors, relatives, friends and shop assistants but they did not. In actuality, they went shopping, to doctors, to a lawyer, to a Court appointment, stayed for days at Major Jay Jackson’s home and so on – all during their alleged captivity at Neverland.

Around that time there were plans to take the Arvizos to Brazil for a vacation (possibly to keep the media away from them). This was later characterized by the Arvizos and the prosecution as an attempt to deport them, when in reality travel documents presented in Court showed that they were supposed to stay in Brazil for only a one week vacation. From Janet Arvizo’s cross-examination:

Well, the itinerary says you’re leaving Los Angeles for Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 1st, 2003, right?

Okay.

It says you’re returning from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Miami on March 6th, 2003, correct?

Uh-huh.

And it says you’re leaving Miami for Los Angeles on March 7th, 2003, correct?

Uh-huh. [2]

According to the testimony of Azja Pryor, girlfriend of the actor Chris Tucker at the time, far from being forced, at the time Janet Arvizo was looking forward to the trip and even invited her:

Did Janet ever mention a trip to Brazil to you?

Yes.

What did she say?

She said that they –

SNEDDON: I’ll object as hearsay.

MESEREAU: Impeachment, Your Honor.

THE COURT: The objection’s overruled.

THE WITNESS: She said that they were going to Brazil for Carnival.

BY MR. MESEREAU: And what is Carnival, to your knowledge?

Beautiful costumes, beads. I guess it’s kind of like Mardi Gras.

Kind of a holiday celebration, right?

A holiday celebration.

Did she ever ask you to go with her?

Yes, she did.

And when did Janet ask you to go to Brazil with her to attend Carnival?

During a phone conversation. It was sometime in February.

Okay. And did you say anything in response to her invitation?

I said, “Sure, I’d love to go.”

And did you ever talk to her about Brazil again?

Yeah, we talked a couple of times about Brazil.

And did you talk about your going with her?

I’m sure — I’m sure I did. I told her I couldn’t go for too long. I was in school at the time, so I would only be able to be there for, like, three or four days.

Did she say that was okay?

Yes. [6]

Eventually the whole trip was called off and it never took place.

On March 2 the family went back again to Neverland from the Calabasas hotel and stayed there until March 12 when they left for good. Like mentioned above, this was characterized by Janet Arvizo in her 2005 testimony as their “final escape”. In actuality, according to Janet Arvizo’s own testimony, she told Frank Cascio on the phone that her parents were sick and she would like her children to see them. Then Vinnie Amen delivered them to their parents’ home and that was it. This was “the big escape”.

Sources:

[1] The Prosecution’s original felony complaint (filed on December 18, 2003)
https://themichaeljacksonallegationsblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/121803complaint_initial-charges.pdf

[2] Janet Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (April 13-19, 2005)
https://themichaeljacksonallegationsblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/court-transcripts.zip

[3] Statement of Probable Cause (filed by the Prosecution on November 17, 2003)
https://themichaeljacksonallegationsblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/plugin-111703stmtpc.pdf

[4] Jesus Salas’ testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (April 4, 2005)
https://themichaeljacksonallegationsblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/court-transcripts.zip

[5] William Dickerman’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 30, 2005)
https://themichaeljacksonallegationsblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/court-transcripts.zip

[6] Azja Pryor’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (May 19, 2005)
https://themichaeljacksonallegationsblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/court-transcripts.zip

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