Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators have begun an inquiry into whether coroner's employees illegally leaked or sold private information related to the investigation of Michael Jackson's death.

Investigators spoke to the coroner's office Friday and will handle the inquiry with the district attorney's office, according to sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore. The department was asked to conduct the probe by county supervisors, he said.

"It's an inquiry, not an investigation, and it is very preliminary," Whitmore said. "We've just made a couple of calls. We want to find out if we need to proceed, if this requires an investigation."

On Wednesday the coroner's office said Jackson's death certificate was improperly viewed by at least a half-dozen employees who had no role in investigating the cause of his death.


Improper views of the certificate, which is stored in a state-supervised computer system, is a violation of internal rules, not any laws, Harvey said.

Harvey has said the employees were warned and that no further investigation was needed.

Within two weeks of the entertainer's June 25 death, the certificate had been viewed more than 300 times, according to Harvey. The electronic death registration system can be accessed by anyone with a state-issued password, including employees at coroner's offices, funeral homes, hospitals and county and state registrar's offices.