Menu

DA in Jackson Case Apologizes for Jokes

The district attorney making child molestation allegations against Michael Jackson (search) apologized for joking last week when authorities announced an arrest warrant had been issued for the pop icon.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas W. Sneddon (search) was responding to criticism about his demeanor at the Nov. 19 news conference.

At one point, the prosecutor drew chuckles when he welcomed reporters to Santa Barbara with the line, "I hope that you all stay long and spend lots of money because we need your sales tax to support our offices."

In a televised interview broadcast Wednesday, Sneddon said, "I think the criticism was valid, I think to some extent (the comment) was inappropriate. I feel bad about it because I should have known better."

In another development, a man who identified himself as a news and photo agency reporter was arrested after allegedly getting aboard Michael Jackson's private jet when the pop star flew into town to surrender on a child-molestation warrant last week, police said Wednesday.

The revelation followed news that Jackson and his attorney were secretly videotaped aboard the plane, triggering an FBI investigation and a lawsuit by Jackson against the charter jet company.

The possibility of a connection between the alleged trespass and the videotapes was under investigation, but no connection had been made, Santa Barbara police Sgt. Dave Gonzalez said.

Los Angeles FBI spokeswoman Cheryl Mimura said she was unaware of the arrest, which was initially reported by the syndicated TV program "Entertainment Tonight."

Lee Kevin Madden, 27, was arrested on Nov. 20 after being discovered aboard the plane by Jackson's security people and held for the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport patrol, Gonzalez said.

At that time Jackson was being booked by sheriff's investigators at the county jail.

Madden, of Los Angeles, had a video camera, digital camera, notepad and metal clipboard, and claimed to be a reporter with the Splash news and picture agency, Gonzalez said.

Madden was booked for investigation of misdemeanor trespassing and released. No charges have been filed.

A telephone message seeking comment was left by The Associated Press at the Marina del Rey, Calif., offices of Splash. There was no immediate response.

Splash identifies itself on its Web site as an independent entertainment news and picture agency, with corporate headquarters in London.

The Web site on Wednesday displayed numerous small sample aerial photos of Jackson's Neverland (search) ranch credited to "Lee Madden / Splash." Other photos credited only to Splash showed interior shots of an airplane cabin with a black fedora identified as Jackson's hat atop a seat, and an exterior shot of the aircraft in a hangar with someone identified as Jackson descending its stairs to surrender.

Jackson's arrival had been cloaked in secrecy. News reporters and photographers were kept far away and the jet rolled its nose through partly opened hangar doors before Jackson got out.

The discovery of the videotapes came to light this week when the charter company, XtraJet of Santa Monica, showed them to news organizations.

Jackson attorney Mark Geragos immediately alleged violation of attorney-client privilege and sued XtraJet (search) on Tuesday. A judge barred the company from releasing the tapes and doing anything with the jet until Jackson's attorneys can inspect it.

The FBI sent agents to investigate whether there was a violation of federal law by surreptitious interception of communications.