Jacko aide cashed $1.5m in cheques, court hears

ONE of Michael Jackson’s top aides cashed two cheques worth $1.5 million (€1.16m) in the weeks after his young accuser and family claim they were held captive and were to be whisked abroad, it emerged yesterday.

As the prosecution's case drew to a close, a bank manager told Santa Maria court, California, that Marc Schaffel cashed the cheques in April, 2003, from an account controlled only by himself and Jackson.

There was no indication as to whether Jackson received the money but the testimony was introduced to boost the conspiracy charges against the singer.

Schaffel has been named repeatedly throughout the trial in connection with the Jackson camp's efforts to defend the star in the wake of Martin Bashir's damaging documentary.

He is suing the star in an unrelated lawsuit, which claims he lent Jackson thousands of dollars for shopping sprees and he is owed over $3m (€2.33m).

The first of three detectives to give evidence relating to telephone records testified about a series of calls between Jackson, his associates and the accuser's family. Sergeant Craig Bonner said the documents showed a surge of calls in mid-February 2003 days after the Bashir documentary aired in the US.

The accuser's mother claims Jackson called her, claiming the family was in danger and urging her to take the family to Miami to take part in a press conference. Jackson denies all 10 counts against him.

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