At the request of the Los Angeles city attorney’s office, federal authorities have filed charges against a man they say stalked pop superstar Janet Jackson, claimed to be her husband and threatened to kill her live-in boyfriend.
Frank Paul Jones was arrested June 22 by a security guard as he made threats in the driveway of the Jackson family compound in Encino. He has been in custody ever since, charged with seven misdemeanors, including trespassing, making terrorist threats and stalking the 26-year-old singer.
Since his arrest, local authorities have uncovered alarming letters in which Jones vowed to go to great lengths to get Jackson’s attention, including committing “mass murder at a Michael Jackson concert if necessary, in an attempt to murder Michael,” according to an FBI affidavit.
Concerned that misdemeanor charges would not be enough to keep Jones away from Jackson, the city attorney’s office asked the U.S. attorney and the FBI to step in and take over the case.
On Tuesday, the U.S. attorney’s office charged Jones, 33, with one count of sending threats through the mail. If convicted, Jones would face a maximum of five years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines. His arraignment is set for today.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Gregory W. Jessner said authorities hope to keep Jones in custody while they continue their investigation. Jessner said he expects to file more felony counts against Jones by the time the case is presented to a federal grand jury in coming weeks. “It’s serious enough for us to take the case,” Jessner said. “It did go beyond simple, nasty letter writing.”
Although Jones was not violent at the time of his arrest, authorities said he also made threats against Jackson’s brother Jermaine, who with Michael Jackson and three other brothers made up the pop group the Jackson 5.
Jones also traveled from his home in New York to the White House in May to threaten President Bush as a way of attracting Jackson’s attention. He was arrested and ordered hospitalized but was released shortly afterward and headed for Los Angeles in search of Jackson, authorities said.
Because federal authorities stepped in, the city attorney’s office on Wednesday dropped the misdemeanor charges, said Deputy City Atty. Holly Beckner.
“We felt he was very dangerous to her and to the general public,” Beckner said. “We felt he could just go off. This is a man who traveled over 3,000 miles to do this.”
Deputy Public Defender Mark Chassman, who had been representing Jones on the misdemeanor charges, said he would not discuss the case, or his former client’s “state of mind or temperament.”
“But I was very confident in his defense,” Chassman said. “There is no reason I know of why the city couldn’t prosecute the case except that they thought they couldn’t win.”
However, authorities said the local case was dropped only because the federal charges would bring a far more severe prison term in a federal penitentiary, keeping Jones away from Jackson for as long as possible.
Doctors who interviewed Jones concurred that he was dangerous, and authorities were particularly concerned about his alleged remarks about committing “mass murder” at a public concert, Beckner said.
A publicist for Janet Jackson had no comment. A spokesman for Michael Jackson said he was not aware of the threats and that no extra security measures had been taken on his current concert tour.
Besides threatening Jackson and her family and friends, Jones has sent the popular entertainer copies of threatening letters that he had sent to other celebrities and politicians, including director John Singleton. Those letters were designed to show Jackson that he was serious in “his desire to reunite with Janet Jackson and his plan to eliminate anyone who gets in his way,” according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Richard G. Palacios.
In all, Jones sent Jackson more than 30 letters, according to the affidavit, including one that read: “I’ll go to the CIA, military intelligent on up to the office of the President of the United States of America, and if the chain of command doesn’t work, I will resort to violence, to bring attention to my problem.”
“I will never leave you, Janet,” Jones wrote in another letter. “My commitment to you is for life.”
Four years ago, Michael Jackson was the victim of a woman who claimed to be his spouse, made threats against him and loitered outside the same Encino compound. She too was arrested several times, once at 3 a.m. after scaling a five-foot fence into the compound’s back yard toting a champagne bottle.