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Coroner's office cleared in criminal inquiry into Michael Jackson leaks [Updated]

September 11, 2009 |  2:11 pm

Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators have concluded a nearly two-month inquiry into whether county coroner’s employees illegally leaked or sold private information from Michael Jackson’s death investigation, a sheriff’s spokesman announced today.

After interviewing coroner’s staff and consulting with the district attorney’s office, investigators from the sheriff’s internal criminal investigations bureau determined that no criminal violations occurred, according to sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.

“We didn’t find any criminal wrongdoing,” Whitmore said.

Results of the inquiry were presented to county supervisors and the county’s chief executive Thursday, Whitmore said.

Supervisors called for the inquiry July 25, after The Times reported that the pop star’s death certificate had been viewed more than 300 times, including by half a dozen coroner’s employees not involved in the investigation.

Whitmore said investigators “did their due diligence” and found no evidence that coroner’s employees illegally accessed or sold information from the Jackson case, although they may have violated department policies.

Craig Harvey, the chief coroner’s investigator, had said employees who inappropriately viewed Jackson’s records were warned -- the proper discipline, according to county civil services rules --
and that no further investigation was needed.

[Updated at 4:50 p.m.: Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas today called the sheriff’s review “very limited” and said that he is awaiting results of a county audit of the coroner that is underway.

“That should be the more telling report because it will be more thorough,” Ridley-Thomas said, adding that sheriff’s investigators could revisit the matter "if something else surfaces.”]

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Interactive timeline: Michael Jackson | 1958-2009