Mother in Jackson case accepts plea
The mother of the teenage boy whose allegations launched pop star Michael Jackson’s sensational molestation trial last year pleaded no contest Monday to one count of welfare fraud in a deal that will spare her jail time.
Janet Arvizo, 38, agreed to pay Los Angeles County more than $8,600 in restitution. She had faced the possibility of more than seven years in prison for failing to disclose when applying for welfare that she had been paid tens of thousands of dollars from a civil lawsuit.
Jackson was acquitted in June 2005 of charges that he molested Arvizo’s son at the pop star’s Neverland Ranch in 2003.
Arvizo will be sentenced April 27 in Los Angeles County Superior Court. In addition to paying restitution to the county, she must perform 150 hours of community service. Arvizo’s lawyer, Patricia Hattersley, said her client took the deal because she has remarried and plans to move to Georgia at the end of the month with her new husband and family.
“She did not want to put her family through the ordeal” of a trial, Hattersley said.
Hattersley said Arvizo had applied for public benefits in 2001 after her then-husband had been convicted of domestic violence and the couple had separated. Hattersley said Arvizo had received about $32,000 from a lawsuit but the money had been spent by the time she applied for the benefits.