The FBI’s “explosive” Michael Jackson files only reveal one thing, says the saga’s chronicler, Diane Dimond: The feds had no real interest in actually prosecuting the King of Pop.
The media barrage last week surrounding the just-released FBI files on Michael Jackson missed the major point. Sure, there were the tales of a 1992 extortionist who vowed to kill both Mafioso John Gotti and Michael Jackson, a cross-country train ride during which Jackson purportedly misbehaved with a young male “cousin,” and that tantalizing bit about a British lad who said Jackson used to call him for phone sex.
Despite screaming New York Post headlines—“Secret FBI Jacko Files—Explosive 300-page dossier’s surprises!”—fewer than half the dossier’s pages were actually released under the Freedom of Information Act, and those pages that were revealed were so heavily redacted as to be nonsensical. There were some tantalizing phrases visible in between the blocked out portions, written in scratchy agent handwriting, such as: “Restraining order—MJ”, “…on bed in…” and a partial sentence about one-time Jackson playmate Bubbles the chimpanzee.
When looking at these FBI files, I was left to wonder what the agency might have found had they really been motivated to investigate.
But to me—someone who has investigated and researched Michael Jackson since 1993—the real bombshell was in the FBI file labeled 62D-LA-162715. An FBI memo written early in September 1993.
Two weeks before that date, on August 23, 1993, I had reported the first child-molestation allegations against Michael Jackson on the now-defunct television program Hard Copy. Part of the developing story was that Jackson had taken a young boy across state lines—as well as half way around the world—for immoral purposes. If true, that would have been a clear violation of the federal Mann Act. Yet, this FBI file now reveals that just two weeks after the initial raid on Jackson’s residences, the feds had already decided not to get involved in what a young boy named Jordie Chandler was telling local police about the international superstar.
• Gerald Posner: Source Says Jackson Doc Won’t Face MurderSpecifically, LAPD and the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department had formed a special task force to investigate the sensational charges, and the FBI had assigned a special agent and a team. So what did federal prosecutors do when asked to attend a task-force meeting? “On September 8, 1993, [federal prosecutor] Donahue advised that she checked with her front office and they had made the decision that the United States Attorney was not interested in prosecuting Michael Jackson for a violation of the Mann Act,” the fateful file reveals. “She also indicated she would not be attending the meeting at the District Attorney’s Office.”
In other words, the locals and the FBI could do all the investigating of the King of Pop they wanted—but nothing would come of it. When the boss tells you, “Go ahead, but your efforts will come to nothing,” those efforts are usually half-hearted.
So, when looking at these partially released FBI files, I was left to wonder what the agency might have found had they really been motivated to investigate, rather than just assist local law-enforcement departments in their efforts.
Even with no prosecution likely, the FBI still chased some of the same facts and listened to the same sources I had heard, including the allegation that Jackson was accused of molesting the two young boys of his next door neighbor’s gardener back in the mid-’80s. In my book on Jackson, Be Careful Who You Love, I reported that sources close to the Jackson family had told me about a payoff to that Mexican gardener years earlier. The FBI file says an informant, “The Mormon” told them the FBI had opened up an investigation on these charges in the mid-’80s but quickly quashed it because Jackson had been invited by President Reagan to come to the White House. “The Mormon” had been a source of mine as well, but I could never confirm his story about the FBI stubbing out a Jackson probe, and I never reported it.
Another part of this FBI file from October 1995 outlines the inspection by U.S. Customs in West Palm Beach, Florida, of a VHS videotape which was part of a child-pornography investigation. The video was hand-labeled, “Michael Jackson’s Neverland Favorites—An All Boy Anthology.” The documents give no clue as to the content of the poor-quality video or from whom agents seized it. That this memo was in Jackson’s FBI jacket makes one tend to believe the tape might have been taken from the entertainer himself but there is nothing to support that. I had several sources back in 1994 tell me Michael Jackson kept suitcases full of pornography, and at his 2005 criminal child-molestation trial, days were spent displaying porn taken from his Neverland Ranch.
There was also an early FBI file (March 1992) about two Canadians who reported that they had traveled on a train, from Toronto to the Grand Canyon, with Jackson and a young boy he called his cousin. The woman, a social worker, said Jackson was very possessive of the youngster and at night she claimed they “heard questionable noises through the [compartment] wall.” But no FBI conclusion about the couple’s allegation is included in the highly edited documents. I’d had a knucklehead Canadian trying to feed me erroneous Jackson stories back in the mid-’90s. With help from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Toronto, I learned Allen was an ex-con pedophile who had convinced young male prostitutes to call me with the wild stories.
All these allegations sat in those files for over decade, with nothing proven or disproven. So the Jackson saga meandered to a conclusion on its own: payoffs, and then death. In June 2009, Jackson overdosed, and the world paid homage. Then on November 5, in a luxury apartment building in Jersey City, New Jersey, overlooking the majestic New York skyline, a concierge received a phone call from a doctor in nearby Bayonne who was worried about a sick patient who lived in unit 1608, and failed to show up for a medical appointment. The concierge found Dr. Evan Chandler dead in his bed from a gunshot wound to the head. The weapon lay next to Chandler’s hand. There was no suicide note.
Jordie Chandler’s father was a complicated, antisocial type who withdrew further into himself in the wake of his son’s relationship with Jackson and the $20 million in hush money. Jermaine Jackson was quoted as saying Chandler’s suicide was proof his brother Michael was innocent of molestation and that Dr. Chandler “could not live with a guilty conscience and that’s why he killed himself.” That is nonsense. Dr. Chandler suffered from a rare metabolic disorder called Gaucher disease, which he failed to treat for the several tumultuous years of the scandal. One Gaucher’s expert declares, “If untreated, it is one of the worst (most painful) diseases known to man.”
I wonder if the feds had taken the original Jackson case more seriously would the course of events have changed? Maybe Evan Chandler wouldn’t be dead. Maybe Michael Jackson wouldn’t be dead either.
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Investigative journalist and syndicated columnist Diane Dimond has covered the Michael Jackson story since 1993 when she first broke the news that the King of Pop was under investigation for child molestation. She is author of the book, Be Careful Who You Love—Inside the Michael Jackson Case. She lives in New York with her husband, broadcast journalist Michael Schoen.