LOS ANGELES – The woman whose son claimed Michael Jackson molested him at Neverland ranch was ordered Friday to stand trial on felony charges of welfare fraud.
The 37-year-old woman waived her right to a preliminary hearing during an appearance in Superior Court. She is charged with one count of welfare fraud and four counts of perjury by falsely applying for welfare. She is accused of stealing $8,000 in government aid.
The woman, released without bail, did not speak to reporters as she left and a call to her attorney seeking comment was not immediately returned. The Associated Press has withheld her name to protect the identity of her son because he has claimed to be a molestation victim.
Jackson was acquitted of the child molestation charges last year. Many jurors said a lack of credibility on the part of the woman and her children on the witness stand were major factors in their verdicts.
During the trial in Santa Maria, she invoked Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on the welfare fraud issue and did not testify about it.
Fans of the superstar want to throw the book at her if she is convicted in the welfare case, the prosecutor said.
"I've had a lot of pressure from Michael Jackson fans to send her to jail," James Baker said outside court, adding that he has received at least 15 phone calls and faxes.
He said he has explained that prison usually is not the sentence in first-time welfare fraud cases involving small amounts of money.
Prosecutors claim the woman fraudulently collected $18,782 in welfare payments between November 2001 and March 2003, but the amount was dropped to $8,000 because the government received child welfare payments from the father of her son.
She also failed to disclose she had received a $150,000 settlement of a lawsuit against a department store chain, prosecutors said.