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Possible 'criminal aspects' in Michael Jackson memorial security probe

July 21, 2009 |  1:24 pm

Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich today told the City Council that his inquiry into the city's role in the Michael Jackson memorial may possibly have unearthed some "criminal aspects.''

"Our investigation has taken an unanticipated turn that raises both civil and criminal aspects,'' Trutanich told the council.

He said only that his office's investigators continue to review the matter and interview witnesses. He declined to elaborate on the details of the investigation.

Trutanich launched an inquiry into the chain of events that led to the city providing support for the July 7 memorial, including which city officials authorized the deployment of thousands of officers. The city spent an estimated $1.4 million for police protection, street services and other crowd-control measures for the event held at Staples Center in downtown L.A.

After Trutanich made his statement, the council went into closed session to discuss the city attorney office's civil inquiry into the event.

The council is expected to order a thorough audit of all city expenses for the memorial, and members specifically want to know why the city paid $48,826 for the 3,500 lunches handed out to police officers providing security.

Under a proposal from council members Dennis Zine and Jan Perry, the council also may consider establishing new policies that dictate how much the city will spend on such "extraordinary, non-emergency, multi-departmental, large-scale events.''

On the flip side is a motion from Councilwoman Janice Hahn calling for a complete accounting of the tourism benefits derived from the memorial. Hahn said the memorial promoted Los Angeles as a global destination for Jackson fans.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said last week the city will pick up the tab  and will not bill either the Jackson family or the company that owns Staples Center, Anschutz Entertainment Group, known as AEG.

Los Angeles is a big city and home to big events, and it's the city's responsibility to ensure the public is protected, the mayor said.

But that was before The Times reported Monday that AEG, the concert promoter behind the superstar's planned 50-date performance in London, received a $50-million offer from Sony Pictures for the rights to about 1,200 hours of rehearsal footage. Fox, Paramount and Universal also have submitted bids.

Even before the memorial, Zine was calling on AEG to pick up the city's costs for the event. Meantime, Trutanich launched the inquiry into the chain of events that led the city to provide support for the services.

-- Phil Willon at City Hall