Michael Jackson Case Could Turn Criminal, LAPD Chief Says

Also see: "Dad Fears 'Foul Play' in Michael Jackson Death"
By Gil Kaufman
MTV.com | July 10, 2009

More details on Jackson's alleged prescription-drug abuse emerge.

The investigation into the death of Michael Jackson could turn into a criminal matter depending on the results of pending toxicology tests. Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton told CNN on Thursday that his department is awaiting the coroner's final report to decide whether to proceed with the investigation as either a homicide case or an accidental drug overdose.

A source also told the news channel that the late singer's family has been informed that the probe into the sudden death of the pop icon at age 50 on June 25 could turn into a criminal case. "The family is aware of a potential criminal prosecution," the anonymous source said.

After an initial autopsy on the singer was inconclusive, toxicology tests were ordered. With results expected in several weeks, Bratton said police have continued their investigation by speaking to a number of doctors who have treated Jackson over the years as they probe the singer's prescription-drug history.

"We are still awaiting corroboration from the coroner's office as to cause of death," Bratton said. "That is going to be very dependent on the toxicology reports that are due to come back. ... And based on those, we will have an idea of what it is we are dealing [with]: Are we dealing with a homicide, or are we dealing with accidental overdose?"

A source told CNN that doctors who refused to cooperate with investigators were issued subpoenas, and, if necessary, authorities will issue more as their probe widens. While Bratton would not elaborate on what investigators found at Beverly Hills-area home Jackson was renting, he confirmed that "a number of items" that will assist in the investigation were seized. CNN has reported that numerous bottles of prescription drugs were taken into evidence following Jackson's death, and other media outlets have claimed that among the drugs found was the powerful anesthetic Diprivan, which is not intended for private use outside a doctor's office.

Just days after the world paid tribute to Jackson in an emotional ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, more sordid details about Jackson's alleged prescription drug use continue to emerge.

According to CNN, based on a confidential document from the Santa Barbara Country Sheriff's Department that was part of the probe into allegations of child-molestation against the singer — of which he was acquitted in 2005 — former employees of the singer said Jackson took more than 10 anti-anxiety Xanax pills a night to get to sleep. The document also said he often obtained the medication under his employees' names.

The 2004 document contains comments from one of Jackson's security guards, who told sheriff's deputies that he expressed concern about the amount of medicine Jackson was taking to get to sleep to another staffer, who reportedly replied that this was an improvement "because he was down from 30 to 40 Xanax pills a night."

The document from the sheriff's office investigation also reportedly relates a story from a security guard who said he quit working for the singer after Jackson "fell on his face" in a hotel room and hurt himself. The employee allegedly told Jackson around that time that he was not comfortable getting prescriptions for him and left his employ.

In 2006, when Jackson was first considering a plan to re-launch his career with a string of shows in Las Vegas, a promoter named Jack Wishna described simply as "deal-maker Jack Wishna" by CNN was trying to help the singer reemerge from a self-imposed silence following the 2005 acquittal. Wishna told CNN that while he was trying to land Jackson a regular engagement at one of the Las Vegas casinos, the singer would appear "drugged up" and "incoherent" during meetings and was often so weak and emaciated, he had to use a wheelchair to get around. Wishna said the attempted comeback shows were then allegedly canceled because of the star's weak condition.

It was around that same time that two anonymous sources told CNN that sister Janet Jackson attempted to stage an intervention on Jackson with the rest of his family, but was rebuffed.

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