‘Criminal Aspects' Probed In Jackson Memorial Cost

An investigation of an estimated $1.4 million spent by City Hall to provide police protection and other services at Michael Jackson's lavish memorial has "criminal aspects," the city attorney said Tuesday.

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich told members of the City Council that investigators have interviewed witnesses and gathered evidence, and the probe "raises both civil and criminal aspects."

Trutanich, who took office July 1, said he would provide no further details on the criminal elements. The target of the probe wasn't immediately clear.

The financially desperate city has been facing a backlash for slapping taxpayers with the bill for the event at a time when the government has been slashing programs and considering layoffs.

Trutanich said later his office had exchanged correspondence with the owner of the Staples Center, AEG, where the memorial was held July 7.

"That letter is an investigative-type letter," said Trutanich spokesman John Franklin. "He's asking questions and wanting them to produce certain things.

"His main goal here is to recoup the taxpayers' money. When you are dealing with the civil aspect, that's basically it," Franklin added.

An AEG spokesman did not immediately return a phone call.

City Councilman Dennis Zine has said the cost of the event could far surpass the estimate.

The city's involvement in the Jackson event has been marked by confusion. An attempt to collect donations from Jackson fans to help cover the costs was later abandoned by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who at first supported the idea.

Among the costs was $48,000 on sandwiches to feed police and other personnel, brought in from 70 miles away.

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