The Michael Jackson investigation took another twist Monday with the resignations of longtime Jackson attorney Bert Fields and security consultant Anthony Pellicano, and the surfacing of a new set of players in the ongoing saga.
Sources said Fields and Pellicano resigned late Wednesday. Concerned their departure would be perceived as an indication of the singer’s guilt, they hoped to keep it secret.
Fields was out of town Monday, but said last week that he has no doubt of Jackson’s innocence and denied persistent rumors that he was being replaced by Neil Papiano, who is best known as Elizabeth Taylor’s civil law attorney.
Pellicano, who was brought into the Jackson camp by Fields, confirmed the departures, but would not elaborate on the reasons.
The private investigator had been the Jackson front man since the early stages of the alleged extortion attempt turned child-molestation investigation, deflecting inquiries when the probe grew.
And speculation that crisis publicity executive Frank Mankiewicz of Hill & Knowlton would be brought into the Jackson fold surfaced again, but sources said the former head of National Public Radio and aide to Robert Kennedy could not come to financial terms with the entertainer’s representatives. Mankiewicz, who is based in Washington, D.C., could not be reached for comment.
Staffers at All Nations — Jackson’s production company on Sony’s Culver City lot — are reportedly concerned about any possible role they may have played in providing the entertainer with head shots and resumes of child actors that were sent to the production office.
The photos — enclosed in three-ring binders — were among the items seized by police during searches of Jackson’s residences in Santa Ynez and Los Angeles, and are considered key pieces of evidence in the child-molestation investigation.
A former Jackson housekeeper testified during a deposition in the civil case that the singer would repeatedly view the photos contained in the notebooks.