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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May, 2005, 01:45 GMT 02:45 UK
Jackson team turns heat on mother
Janet Arvizo at the trial of Michael Jackson
Janet Arvizo says Michael Jackson tried to keep her captive
The mother of the boy accusing Michael Jackson of child abuse was a fraudster willing to exploit her cancer-stricken son for money, a court has heard.

Witnesses for Mr Jackson's defence said Janet Arvizo had concealed sources of income while receiving welfare cheques.

They also showed she spent $7,000 (3,800) shopping and dining out at the same time as she alleges Mr Jackson kept her and her family captive.

Mr Jackson denies charges of child abuse and conspiracy to kidnap.

The allegations are that two years ago the star molested then 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo and plied him with alcohol, and that he conspired to hold the family against their will to force them to speak out in his defence.

If convicted, the singer faces up to 20 years in jail.

'Duped'

Mrs Arvizo refused to testify in court on Monday, pleading the fifth amendment to avoid incriminating herself.

Her former sister-in-law told the court that she had offered to help Mrs Arvizo's son, Gavin, who was ill with cancer, by holding campaigns for blood donations.

But she said Mrs Arvizo swore at her and rejected the offer.

"She told me that she didn't need my blood, that she needed money," said Gavin's aunt, bursting into tears.

Connie Keenan, editor of the Mid Valley News, said she had been "duped" by Mrs Arvizo into running a story about her son's sickness.

"The mother wanted an additional story because she didn't make enough money from the original story - those are her words, not mine," Ms Keenan testified.

Jay Leno

The court heard from a government worker who said she handled Mrs Arvizo's welfare forms, on which she claimed she had no other sources of income, despite being awarded more than $30,000 from a lawsuit 10 days earlier.

Mercy Manriquez said anyone who deliberately omits sources of income from the forms is committing fraud.

Chartered accountant Mike Radakovich told jurors that at the same time as receiving welfare payments, Mrs Arvizo was being paid thousands of dollars by Michael Jackson and his associates.

He said financial records showed that she had spent $7,000 on clothes, beauty products and dinners out - billed to Mr Jackson - during February and March 2003, the same time she says she was held captive.

Observers said the defence was trying to portray Mrs Arvizo as a money-grabber who had fabricated a case against Mr Jackson in an attempt to extract money from him.

The defence is expected to call chat show host Jay Leno on Tuesday, before resting its case.


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