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Last Updated: Friday, 13 May, 2005, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
Jackson aides 'stole nearly $1m'
Michael Jackson arriving in court
Jackson's ex-lawyer said everyone was trying to benefit from him
A former lawyer for Michael Jackson has told the singer's child abuse trial that he believes two aides diverted $965,000 (516,000) from his accounts.

David LeGrand said he became suspicious of Ronald Konitzer and Dieter Wiesner's motives and hired a private detective to investigate them.

The aides have been described by the prosecution as his co-conspirators.

Mr Jackson denies abusing a 13-year-old boy and conspiring to keep him and his family captive.

Mr LeGrand's testimony for the defence appeared to support that of Debbie Rowe, Mr Jackson's ex-wife, who said he had been surrounded by "opportunistic vultures".

Earlier, the jury was shown out-takes from the documentary by British journalist Martin Bashir which triggered the police investigation into Mr Jackson.

The footage showed the star as more vulnerable and compassionate, and included Mr Bashir describing Mr Jackson's relationship with his children as "spectacular".

"My life, my romantic development, was shaped by your records," Mr Bashir told Mr Jackson in the footage, adding that he believed the singer had composed "some of the most beautiful pop music we have ever heard".

'Suspicious of everybody'

Mr LeGrand said he had been hired by Mr Jackson for three months in early 2003 to sort out confusion over his business interests.

"I became suspicious of everybody," he said. "Everybody wanted to benefit from Mr Jackson one way or another."

He added that Mr Konitzer and Mr Wiesner seemed determined to manage all of the singer's affairs.

"I became concerned that they were in a position to divert funds," he said.

The lawyer also said Mr Jackson had been hoodwinked over the making of Mr Bashir's documentary, signing "terrible contracts" prior to filming which gave Mr Bashir and UK Granada TV full rights to the footage.

'Verge of bankruptcy'

He was misled into believing he would have some measure of control over what footage was used in the final cut, Mr LeGrand said.

But an attempt by the defence to refute allegations that the singer was heavily in debt at the time of the documentary failed, with Mr LeGrand saying that Mr Jackson was "highly illiquid" and would be "on the verge of bankruptcy" if he did not act immediately.

Later Judge Rodney Melville issued a warning that another former lawyer for Mr Jackson, Mark Geragos, must obey a defence subpoena and take the stand on Friday.

"That'll give me time to get the warrant out when he doesn't appear," the judge said, following discussions over whether Mr Geragos could testify amid commitments to other cases.

Earlier in the week, the defence focused on trying to refute claims of a pattern of abuse by Mr Jackson.

Actor Macaulay Culkin on Wednesday denied claims he was molested.

The former child star, now 24, told the court that while he had shared a bed with Mr Jackson, allegations of sexual abuse were "absolutely ridiculous".

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