Published June 10, 2005
The prosecutors in Michael Jackson's child molestation and conspiracy trial apparently feel they've already won their case.
On Wednesday night, the whole lot of them — DA Tom Sneddon, Ron Zonen, Gordon Auchincloss, their wives and families — all celebrated at the Hitching Post restaurant in Casmalia.
The Hitching Post, cousin of the Buellton restaurant featured in the movie "Sideways," is considered the best restaurant in the greater Santa Maria area.
Sneddon was so happy that he actually embraced celebrity crime reporter Aphrodite Jones. She told me he was in a jubilant mood, and the most outgoing of all the people on hand.
Said one observer, "This group was happy. There was definitely a celebratory mood."
The prosecutor's team was first spotted making merry at the bar, and then retreated to a private dining room behind the bar that has no door.
"They could be heard laughing and carrying on," said a source.
Also present at what could only be termed a party were several of the police investigators involved in the case, including Sgts. Steve Robel and Jeff Klapakis.
By contrast, little has been seen around town of defense attorney Tom Mesereau, who's kept a low profile since the jury began deliberations a week ago.
Where has Michael Jackson's money gone? Really, even after all the accounting has been finished, no one can quite figure it out.
But a report from Jackson's storage hangars at the Santa Monica Airport, now being emptied to make today's deadline, is revealing in more than one way.
Found in one hangar: seven Rolls-Royce limousines. According to sources at the hangar, only two of them were able to be started. Three or four of the limos are antiques, and one has a caved-in roof. Several of them were foisted on Jackson by MLS Limousines, a company Jackson encountered during stays at Merv Griffin's Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Another car found in Jackson's storage space: the white Chevy Blazer that the singer loaned to the Arvizo family in 2002 when their eldest son — now Jackson's accuser — fell ill with cancer.
You may recall family members complaining that the Blazer eventually needed repairs. They handed it back to Jackson and he kept it.
But here's something you don't know about the Blazer: It's the exact same vehicle Jackson was driving in 1992 when he met the Chandler family, whose son was his accuser in the 1993 civil suit.
The truck broke down on the San Diego Freeway near Rent-A-Wreck, the rental car agency owned by June Chandler's second husband, David Schwartz.
"You'd have thought he'd have had that thing burned," said one source.
Jackson wound up shelling out over $20 million to the Chandlers by the time his friendship with their son was over.
It's almost unimaginably weird that Jackson loaned the same truck to the Arvizos some 10 years later. He must see the irony, if not the cruel humor, in this now.
Meanwhile, the moving vans are still trying to get all the boxes and junk out of the Santa Monica airport hangars in time to meet today's eviction deadline.
The word is that Jackson's camp has found less expensive storage facilities closer to Neverland. But moving the Rollses may not be so easy, since most of them do not seem to run.
In other Jacko auto news: the $400,000 Mercedes Pullman limo I told you the singer bought in 2003 still has no license plates.
Nevertheless, this was the car that Jackson had the Rev. Jesse Jackson chauffeured around in this week. The civil rights leader probably had no idea he was riding in an unlicensed, uninsured, unregistered automobile.
Famed actor Marlon Brando's many personal effects will soon be auctioned off by Christie's. The Brando collection just had a big show in Los Angeles, and now it moves to New York.
But private investigator Paul Barresi recently uncovered a piece of Brando memorabilia that the Christie's bidders would kill to own. The item in question is a recording of a telephone message left by Brando on Quincy Jones' answering machine in October 1992.
We will post a transcript of the nine-minute phone call here on Monday. I can tell you that the rambling monologue is pure Brando, and should be a hit on the collector's market should Barresi decide to put it up for auction.
Have you been to the great new music Web site, www.garageband.com? It's a terrific way for new music artists to get some attention.
Starting Sunday, check out the female vocalists section. Featured will be Jessica Domain's hot song, "Stay." With radio locking out new artists, this Web site promises to be an exciting new avenue for aspiring acts.