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Fraud Trial Set for Jackson Accuser’s Mom

June 22, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The woman who claimed Michael Jackson molested her son, leading to a sensational trial a year ago, was ordered Wednesday to stand trial Aug. 7 on a charge of welfare fraud.

However, the trial date could be postponed. Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson said the date would be ``one of 30,″ meaning trial could start within 30 days.

The 37-year-old woman, whose name by marriage is Janet Jackson, entered a not guilty plea through her attorney. She did not speak during the arraignment on a new Superior Court charging document.

The woman’s lawyer, Patricia Hattersley, said outside court she hopes the case can be resolved without a trial.

``We are open to discussions,″ Hattersley said. ``Her position is she never misrepresented anything intentionally.″

During Michael Jackson’s trial last year in Santa Maria, the woman invoked Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and refused to testify about the welfare issues. She is accused of accepting $8,000 in fraudulently obtained assistance and committing perjury four times on welfare applications.

She is accused of hiding the fact that she received a substantial settlement of a civil suit against J.C. Penny before she filed for welfare.

``We’re scheduled to go to trial unless she makes restitution,″ said district attorney’s spokeswoman Jane Robison.

Michael Jackson was acquitted of the child molestation charges last year. Many jurors said a lack of credibility on the part of the woman and her children on the witness stand were major factors in their verdicts. The defense portrayed her as a con artist who schemed to get money from celebrities and through fraudulent legal claims.

The Associated Press has withheld the identities of the accuser and his siblings, who have a different last name than their mother’s.

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