LOS ANGELES – The mother of the boy who accused Michael Jackson (search) of molesting him pleaded not guilty Tuesday to welfare fraud.
The woman, who is not being named by The Associated Press because that would identify her son, entered the plea in Superior Court to four felony counts of "perjury by false application for aid" and one count of "aid by misrepresentation," a violation of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
The 37-year-old woman was released without bail pending an Oct. 28 hearing.
Prosecutors alleged that she collected $18,782 in fraudulently obtained welfare payments between November 2001 and March 2003 by failing to disclose money she had received from a lawsuit settlement.
Each perjury charge carries a potential sentence of two to four years in prison. The welfare code violation carries a potential sentence of 16 months to three years.
The woman's attorney, Patricia Hattersley, said she and her client did not have any comment.
Jackson was acquitted in June of charges that he plied her underage son with liquor and molested him at his Neverland ranch in Santa Barbara County.
During the criminal trial, she invoked her Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and refused to testify about the welfare matter.
After Jackson was acquitted, many jurors said her lack of credibility was a major factor in their verdicts.
A criminal complaint filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Bureau of Fraud and Corruption Prosecutions said authorities learned of the fraud allegations through a tip from a private investigator. Authorities said they received the tip on Feb. 2, 2005, just before the Jackson trial began.