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Witness: Jacko aide tried to send family to Brazil

Witness: Jacko aide tried to send family to Brazil. A travel agent says a Jackson associate bought the family one-way tickets

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At the height of the controversy over Martin Bashir’s Michael Jackson documentary, the singer’s camp tried to spirit the boy shown in the film and his family out of the country, buying them one-way tickets to Brazil. That, according to wire service reports, was the testimony Tuesday of travel agent Cynthia Montgomery, who told prosecutors at the Jackson trial that Jackson associate Marc Schaffel booked the tickets for the boy (now Jackson’s accuser) and his family, then canceled the arrangements for the March 1, 2003, flight at the last minute. Her testimony speaks to the conspiracy accusations against Jackson, alleging that he and his aides kept the family as virtual prisoners or shuttled them from place to place in order to compel their participation in his rebuttal video to the Bashir report.

Under cross-examination, Montgomery acknowledged that she never spoke to Jackson himself about the Brazil trip. She also acknowledged that she and Jackson have lawsuits pending against each other, and that she has been questioned by the FBI, in the matter of Jackson’s November 2003 charter flight from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara to surrender to authorities for booking on the current charges. Hidden cameras on that flight secretly videotaped conversations between Jackson and his then-attorney Mark Geragos. No one has claimed responsibility for the taping, which prompted the FBI probe and the dueling lawsuits. Montgomery said Tuesday that she knew nothing of the taping until after it occurred. Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau noted that Montgomery was testifying under a grant of immunity from federal prosecution, should there be charges in the videotape matter.

Montgomery also testified that she had standing orders to serve wine in soda cans on Jackson’s charter flights. Jackson is charged with plying the boy with alcohol, and Montgomery’s account echoes the testimony of other witnesses who say Jackson drank wine out of soda cans and served it that way to children, though one flight attendant testified that she served alcohol to Jackson that way out of discretion and on her own initiative. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.