Michael Jackson | Sting | Mariah Carey

Jacko Stakes Family Home on Innocence

Michael Jackson must really believe he's innocent of child molestation — and so must his family.

According to sources, Jackson's $3 million bail bond is collateralized against a loan he took on his parents' home in Encino, Calif. Jackson is listed as the owner of the home in public records.

Jackson's bail bond, posted with David Perez Bail Bonds of Southern California, was originally thought to be collateralized against his own Neverland Valley Ranch.

But according to the terms of his loan with Bank of America, he was not able to use Neverland itself, which is heavily leveraged, for any loans.

According to public records, Jackson obtained a $3 million cash loan against the parents' home, called Hayvenhurst, on March 17, 2004. Accredited Surety and Casualty is listed as the lender.

Of course, the Jackson family only had to put up $300,000 in cash for the actual bond. The $3 million will be forfeited only if Jackson skips town or leaves the country. Even then, the family would have 180 days to pony up the cash before it would be in danger of losing its home.

Plenty of people have speculated that the beleaguered pop star might be go on the lam, but the fact that his parents and siblings might then wind up living in a cardboard box seems to preclude this possibility.

Nevertheless, Jackson's financial picture remains perilous as his trial drags on. Since his Bank of America loans for $270 million were bought by a private hedge fund last week, Jackson has developed more cash-flow problems.

According to two sources, he recently borrowed $2 million, either from grocery-store magnate Ron Burkle or from a bank source with assistance from Burkle. Calls to Burkle were not returned yesterday.

Burkle, a Democratic party fundraiser and close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, has also gained some celebrity of his own recently for investing in Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' Sean John clothing line.

A published report yesterday also suggested he may be in a real-estate deal with actor Leonardo DiCaprio. But successful as he is, billionaire Burkle is still seen by some in the Jackson inner circle as the man who derailed a deal to make the pop star instantly solvent.

"Ron Burkle's interference is the reason Bank of America sold Michael's loans to Fortress Investments," one insider said.

Of course, the bank had plenty of good cause to get out of its long-term deal with Jackson.

Depending on whom you talk to, Burkle's role in the Jackson saga is either that of a white knight or as a spoiler who mucked up a well-thought-out plan.

The fact remains that Jackson is now in business with people he does not know and who do not care about his self-proclaimed pop royalty.

Yesterday in court, five Neverland employees testified for the defense as the Santa Maria courthouse braces for three potential blockbuster witnesses later this week: Macaulay Culkin, Mark Geragos and Brad Miller.

Only one of Monday's gang made much of a difference: ranch manager Joe Marcus, who has worked for Jackson for 18 years. A likeable witness, he will take the stand again today.

Marcus followed gardener Ramon Velasco, who testified with help of a translator that his job at the ranch was "to keep the animals from eating the flowers." Again, you wonder why Jackson is broke — and there's the answer.

Marcus corroborated earlier testimony from a few witnesses that both Jackson's accuser in the child molestation case and the accuser's brother were ill-behaved and disrespectful guests.

But more importantly, Marcus also recounted the various trips off the ranch taken by the accuser's family, and how often they would have had opportunities to "escape" if they had felt they were being held against their will.

Marcus recalled that he stayed in the car after driving the accuser's mother, Janet Arvizo, to nearby Solvang for a shopping trip.

On another occasion, he picked up the whole family after it had been to a local orthodontist's office on a busy thoroughfare. Each time, all family members gladly returned to Neverland rather than terminate their "kidnapping."

Sting's Not Horsing Around

Congratulations to rocker Sting and his wife, producer-actress-activist Trudie Styler.

The horse that won Saturday's Kentucky Derby, Giacomo, is named for their 9-year-old son, who was 6 when the future Derby winner was born.

Giacomo Sumner is a precocious chess whiz and handy conversationalist who gives most adults a run for their money. Giacomo the horse is owned by Jerry Moss, who co-founded the once great A&M Records with Herb Alpert. The label was not only home to The Police and Sting, but also Carole King, Cat Stevens and, more recently, Sheryl Crow.

Mariah's Millions Mystifies

If you had told anyone in the music biz two years ago that Mariah Carey would have a runaway hit album in 2005, they'd probably have collapsed in hysterics.

But "The Emancipation of Mimi" looks as if it will finish the current week at No. 1 again, with another 200,000 or so copies in the hands of fans.

"Mimi" is probably going to be Mariah's biggest hit album in over a decade. It's already spawned two hit singles, and there are several more on the way. Go figure.

Credit has to go to manager Benny Medina, who spirited Mariah away from another manager and a label deal. Remember the short-lived MonarC Records? He also jumped sides, leaving former client Jennifer Lopez in the dust.

It's poetic justice, since Lopez and Carey have had an old-fashioned feud going for several years, thanks to Lopez poaching some music Carey had planned on using for the movie "Glitter."

After a nervous breakdown, a huge public divorce and bombs of both a movie and its soundtrack, Carey is back and bigger than ever.