07.10.09

Jackson's Shady Inner Circle

The Daily Beast's Gerald Posner uncovers disturbing new details about the men who ran Michael Jackson's security team prior to his child-molestation trial—including their strange job qualifications, an arrest history, and how they helped him get drugs.

Yesterday, CNN obtained a confidential 2004 document from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department containing interviews with two of Jackson's former security guards while officials were preparing for Jackson’s child-molestation trial. The guards interviewed provided information about the extent of Jackson’s drug use, some of the doctors involved, the ways Jackson tried to hide his abuse, and how he obtained extra prescriptions.

CNN refused to disclose the names of the security guards named in the document, but The Daily Beast has learned that one is Chris Carter, who worked as the chief of security for Jackson prior to the first police raid on Neverland in 2003. It was Carter who told investigators that he would get Xanax (used usually as an antianxiety and panic-disorder drug) for Jackson under various fictitious names, including even his own and the names of other employees.

Michael spotted an attractive young African-American man across a casino floor as he and his entourage walked through and asked to see if he might be someone worth “hiring.”

But beyond adding to the emerging portrait of Jackson’s longtime drug abuse, the real story about Carter is not necessarily his disclosures about drugs and Michael Jackson five years ago, but rather what The Daily Beast has learned about Carter, and the insights it provides into how badly Jackson chose the people who were supposed to provide his security and safety.

Mike LaPerruque, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeant, was Jackson’s security chief from 2001 to 2004 and again from 2007 to 2008. When he was with Michael Jackson in Las Vegas during his first stint with the pop star, Michael spotted an attractive young African-American man across a casino floor as he and his entourage walked through. That man was Chris Carter. Jackson asked LaPerruque to talk to the young man and see if he might be someone worth “hiring.”

After a few minutes, LaPerruque returned and told Jackson that the person was not someone Michael wanted on his staff. Jackson ignored the advice and hired Chris Carter as LaPerruque’s deputy. Carter had no background in security work.

When LaPerruque left Jackson’s employment in 2004, Chris Carter replaced him as the chief of security. Later, while Carter and Jackson were in a skateboard shop near Neverland, Jackson spotted a young, attractive blond surfer teenager behind the counter. Jackson this time asked Carter to quiz the 17-year-old, who he subsequently hired as the deputy to Carter. When Carter left a year later, few people knew that Michael Jackson’s entire security team was being directed by an 18-year-old named Joey, who had no prior experience.

This farcical situation, as Jackson’s trial on sexual-abuse charges drew near, prompted Grace Rwaramba, Jackson’s longtime nanny, to seek help. Jermaine Jackson had converted to Islam. He helped bring in the Nation of Islam and the Chris Carters and Joeys were gone. The Nation of Islam employees remained ensconced in key positions around Jackson until his death (those employees have consistently refused any comment despite my many emails and telephone calls).

As Jackson’s former security chief, Carter was expected to be the prosecutor’s star witness in the star’s 2005 sexual-abuse trial. He was set to testify that he saw Jackson and the boy who had been allegedly abused drink wine together. He was also to say that Jackson was an active, involved manager of his ranch, bolstering the prosecution's allegation that no conspiracy could have occurred without the singer's approval. But during the trial, Carter was arrested in Las Vegas. He was charged with several felony counts, including federal bank-robbery charges and state charges of armed robbery and kidnapping. Carter never made it to the stand, leaving a gaping hole in the prosecution's case.

Xtra Insight: The Daily Beast’s Gerald Posner: Jackson’s Doctor Subpoenaed

Gerald Posner is the award-winning author of 10 investigative nonfiction bestsellers, ranging from political assassinations, to Nazi war criminals, to 9/11, to terrorism ( www.posner.com). Posner lives in Miami Beach with his wife, the author Trisha Posner.