Jackson's chauffeur gives deposition

December 03, 1993|By Jim Newton | Jim Newton,Los Angeles Times

A chauffeur for Michael Jackson has said in a sworn deposition that the entertainer instructed him to take a suitcase and briefcase from Mr. Jackson's Los Angeles apartment on the same day that investigators searched the property for evidence of sexual molestation, sources close to the case said Wednesday in Los Angeles.

The chauffeur, Gary Hearne, was questioned by lawyers for more than five hours Tuesday, and some details of his statement were relayed to investigators Wednesday. The statement was videotaped, and a court reporter transcribed the session.

Mr. Hearne, sources said, told the attorneys that he ran the errand late in the day, suggesting that he picked up the material after police had completed their search of the residence. Nevertheless, the sources said investigators were following up the chauffeur's statements to determine whether anyone interfered with the serving of the warrants.

According to people familiar with the investigation, the chauffeur told attorneys that he received a call from one of Mr. Jackson's aides on thesame day that Los Angeles police officers conducted searches of the apartment and Mr. Jackson's ranch.

According to sources, Mr. Hearne told the lawyers that about 15 minutes after he arrived at the apartment, he received a call from Mr. Jackson and his private investigator, Anthony J. Pellicano. The sources said Mr. Hearne said in his deposition that the two men asked Mr. Hearne to pick up a briefcase, a suitcase and other items.

Mr. Hearne said he was instructed to take the suitcase and the briefcase to Mr. Pellicano's home, according to sources. Mr. Hearne told the lawyers that he dropped the material off as instructed without ever looking inside either case. Mr. Hearne told lawyers that he does not know whether he removed evidence that might be of interest to investigators since he didn't look in the cases, sources said.

Larry R. Feldman, the lawyer for a 13-year-old boy who alleges Mr. Jackson sexually molested him over a period of four months earlier this year, took the deposition from Mr. Hearne on Tuesday. Mr. Feldman refused to comment Wednesday.

Howard Weitzman, one of Mr. Jackson's lawyers, also was presentfor Mr. Hearne's deposition, but he, too, declined to comment on what transpired.

"I believe it is highly inappropriate to comment on the contents of any testimony taken in depositions," Mr. Weitzman said.

Mr. Hearne's deposition is the first in a long series arranged by attorneys on both sides of the mounting civil case, which is scheduled to go to trial next March. The boy's lawyer expects to take sworn statements from a number of Mr. Jackson's maids, as well as from Mr. Pellicano, Mr. Jackson and his sister, LaToya.

Mr. Jackson's lawyers have stated in court papers that they expect to interview the boy who says he was molested, as well as the boy's mother and father and others close to him.

The entertainer, who dropped out of sight last month after canceling his world tour and announcing that he had become addicted to painkillers, vehemently denies the sexual molestation allegations, which he says grew out of a failed $20 million extortion attempt. Mr. Jackson has not been charged with any crime. An investigation is continuing.

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