SANTA MARIA, Calif., April 26 -- In those hectic days in February 2003, after a British documentary aired that had Michael Jackson saying he saw nothing wrong with sharing his bed with children, his business associate ordered Jackson's travel agent to get one-way airline tickets to fly the young accuser in his current trial, along with the boy's brother, sister and mother, to Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In court Tuesday for Jackson's child molestation trial, Cynthia Montgomery testified that Jackson business associate Marc Schaffel "wanted one-way tickets." But a Brazilian visa requires a round-trip ticket, so the Las Vegas travel agent arbitrarily picked a return date. Cost of the four seats: $15,092. And that was for coach.
Travel agent Cynthia Montgomery testified Tuesday in Jackson's trial.
(Pool Photo Lucas Jackson -- AP)
The testimony from Montgomery was meant to bolster prosecution charges that the boy, now 15, and his family were falsely imprisoned by Jackson and his team. The prosecution alleges they wanted the family away from the media, and to participate in a public relations rebuttal to the documentary by British journalist Martin Bashir.
The trip to Brazil never happened; there was "a change in plans," Montgomery testified. The mother of Jackson's accuser told jurors earlier in the trial that Jackson warned her that her family was being threatened and that he would "protect us from these killers."
In court Tuesday, prosecutors produced the airline reservations to Brazil that Schaffel had ordered. Montgomery also testified that she routinely booked private jets for Jackson and his entourage and that part of his passenger profile included wanting white wine served to him in Diet Coke cans on flights.
One of the flight attendants who routinely served Jackson "told me that Mr. Jackson had requested that his wine be put into soda cans," Montgomery said, offering evidence to support earlier testimony that Jackson drank alcohol from soda cans; children visiting with him had done the same, other witnesses have testified.
But as with other witnesses in the trial, Jackson defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. in his cross examination let jurors know that Montgomery was engaged in her own legal tangles.
Montgomery was testifying only after being granted immunity from prosecution in a related matter. She is part of an FBI investigation that seeks to learn who secretly videotaped Jackson and his former attorney on a private jet flying from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara on the day Jackson returned to California and surrendered to sheriff's deputies in November 2003.
Montgomery maintained Tuesday that she had no knowledge of the videotaping, but said she had been interviewed by FBI agents. On Monday, her attorney said in court that he was concerned about her testifying -- with or without immunity -- because she could face charges.
Montgomery also said that she had filed a civil suit against Jackson seeking $50,000, to pay for that flight and other expenses she says Jackson owes her. In turn, Jackson and his former defense attorney, Mark Geragos, are suing Montgomery and others over the secret videotapes.
Also appearing in court Tuesday was Jackson's "personal director of photography," Hamid Moslehi, who shot publicity and documentary photos and videos of Jackson from 1996 until 2003.
Moslehi said he was hired by the Jackson camp to gather archival footage and shoot new interviews for the so-called "rebuttal documentary" that Jackson put together to counter the Bashir documentary. Titled "The Footage You Were Never Meant to See," it aired on the Fox network.
Moslehi described the long night he spent arranging the videotaping of Jackson's accuser and his family. At first, Moslehi said he went to Neverland ranch in rural Santa Barbara County, where the children were staying. But the accuser's mother was in Los Angeles and balked at appearing on tape.
"At the beginning she was not happy to do this rebuttal video," Moslehi testified. The mother complained, Moslehi said, that the Bashir documentary had "turned her world upside down" and that she and her family were being pursued by media.
Eventually, that same night, the mother agreed to do the interview, but when Moslehi prepared to take her children to his own home to do the interview, Jackson's ranch manager told him the children "were not allowed to leave the property." However, they were not stopped.
At his home, Moslehi set up his equipment in the midnight hours, and later the accuser's mother appeared with some of Jackson's associates (including his private investigator), but she then wrangled with them over a release form or a contract -- Moslehi was not sure which -- before she eventually consented and was taped.
Moslehi said the rebuttal project was essentially done "to make Mr. Jackson look good." He also testified that he overheard Schaffel say to someone on the telephone, "We have to get them out of the country."
Schaffel, named in court documents as an unindicted co-conspirator, is a former producer of porn videos. He has a $3.1 million lawsuit pending against Jackson, saying the singer has not repaid loans or fully paid him for producing the rebuttal documentary.
Moslehi, too, is engaged in civil litigation with Jackson. At one point, he said, Jackson owed him $250,000 for past services. Some of that money has been paid, Moslehi said, but not all. Plus: Moslehi was promised a cut of the profits on the rebuttal documentary, he says, by two of Jackson's former managers.
And those managers? Mesereau said in court that they had stolen close to a million dollars from Jackson.