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'Criminal Aspects' Probed In Cost Of Michael Jackson's Memorial

Investigators looking at how the city of Los Angeles spent an estimated $1.4 million for police protection and other services at Michael Jackson's memorial say they have uncovered possible criminal wrongdoing.

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who has been reviewing the procedures, that led the city to deploy thousands of police and other city workers for the event, says the numbers don't make sense.

"Our investigation has taken an unanticipated turn that raises both civil and criminal aspects... I can only tell you we are looking into all aspects of this case."

With the city facing a $525 million budget shortfall, officials have taken heat for providing taxpayer-funded security for the July 7 ceremony at Staples Center that drew some 20,000 fans.

The Police Department deployed more than 3,000 officers on predictions up to 250,000 people would converge for the service, but beyond ticket holders only a few thousand fans showed up.

More than $48,000 was also spent for sandwiches brought in for police from more than 70 miles away, when there were much less expensive alternatives located in the surrounding area.

The City Council says it is seeking a full accounting of the taxpayer dollars committed to the memorial.

It's just the latest turn in the city's bungling of the event and its costs.

A program to collect donations from Jackson fans to help cover costs was abandoned by the Mayor last week, after he claimed that he hadn't approved it.

The website, which asked fans for donations, raised a poultry $35,000 until it was taken down.

July 22, 2009 |

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