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Michael Jackson's death: Jackson camp says concert promoter hired doctor [Updated]

June 26, 2009 |  2:43 pm

DoctorThe cardiologist being sought for questioning in the investigation of Michael Jackson's death was hired by a concert promoter to accompany the entertainer to London for his comeback concert series, a Jackson advisor said today.

Dr. Conrad Murray, a physician with offices in Nevada and Texas, was with Jackson when he went into cardiac arrest Thursday; police, who talked to Murray briefly at UCLA Medical Center, are trying to track him down for further interviews.

Dr. Tohme Tohme, a Jackson advisor, said that Los Angeles-based concert promoter AEG Live retained Murray and that the physician arrived in town less than two weeks ago.

Jackson and the rest of the company were set to depart early next week for England.

"I don't know the exact arrangements, but AEG paid him and he was going to go with [Jackson on tour]," Tohme said of Murray. Tohme said Murray treated Jackson for a cold when the singer was living in Las Vegas last year.

A spokesman for AEG declined to comment.

In a statement, the company, which had sunk tens of millions of dollars into Jackson's comeback efforts, expressed condolences to the singer's family and said it planned to begin processing refunds for about 750,000 tickets next week.

Police sources said Friday afternoon that they were still looking for Murray. Investigators impounded his vehicle at Jackson's Holmby Hills house.

Murray was hit with hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal judgments last year and has a history of money problems.

In 2008, three judgments were filed against Murray or his company, Global Cardiovascular Associates in Clark County, Nev., totaling more than $435,000, and two other cases are pending from companies that claim Murray owes them a total of $355,000. The three judgments include $71,332 for school loans, $135,302 to Popular Leasing USA and $228,420 to Citicorp Vendor Finance.

Murray specialized in cardiovascular disease and was licensed in California, Nevada and Texas. He has  no history of discipline in those states. He graduated in 1989 from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, an independent, historically black university that touts itself as “perhaps the major educator of black physicians in the U.S.”

Murray practices in both Nevada and Texas. In Houston in 2006 he helped open the Acres Home Heart and Vascular Institute, fulfilling part of a promise he made after the death of his father, a longtime community leader and doctor. He opened Global Cardiovascular Associates, his Las Vegas practice, in 2000. On Friday, that Las Vegas office was dark and locked. A "Closed" sign hung on the door, reading: “Will be back at :00 p.m.”

At least one TV crew circled the parking lot.

Nobody answered the door at Murray’s Las Vegas home -- a million-dollar stucco-and-stone dwelling in a gated community next to  the Red Rock Country Club -- but a gray sedan pulled away as a reporter approached.

In addition to the recent judgments, Murray filed for bankruptcy in 1992 in Riverside County. Five tax liens were filed against him between 1993 and 2003, in amounts totaling more than $44,600, according to county records.

[Updated at 4:40 p.m.:Tohme said that Jackson selected Murray but that AEG paid the doctor's bills.]

--Harriet Ryan and Kimi Yoshino, with Ashley Powers in Las Vegas

Photo. Dr. Conrad Murray in 2006. Credit: Houston Chronicle