An executive with a Santa Monica charter jet company under investigation for secretly taping Michael Jackson has served for years as an FBI informant, sources said Wednesday.
Though there is no evidence that authorities knew about XtraJet's surreptitious recordings of the pop star until after they were disclosed Monday, sources inside and outside law enforcement said company executive Jeffrey Borer worked as a bureau informant in Los Angeles.
In an interview late Wednesday, the 59-year-old Marina del Rey man denied ever serving as a government informant.
The claim, he said, is "absolutely not true. I don't know where that came from.... If you print that, you'll get in big trouble," he said.
The FBI refused to comment on whether Borer had been an informant. "As a matter of policy, we never identify people who have ever been sources, so I wouldn't be able to comment on that," FBI spokesman Matthew McLaughlin said in Los Angeles.
McLaughlin emphasized that there was no connection between Borer's purported role as an informant and the secret recordings of Jackson before the entertainer surrendered to Santa Barbara County authorities on child molestation charges.
"We, at no time, directed anybody to place any recording devices on that aircraft," McLaughlin said.
The new details about Borer add another bizarre twist to the case involving Jackson, who was videotaped along with his lawyer, Mark Geragos, on Nov. 21 aboard the jet that was flying from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara.
On Monday, company officials and representatives for Jackson confirmed that he and Geragos were surreptitiously taped aboard an XtraJet aircraft. Company officials said they found two videotapes aboard one of the chartered jets and later showed them to selected media outlets. Company officials said they were soliciting advice on whether the tapes could be sold.
Bob Tur, owner of Los Angeles News Service, told The Times that his company sometimes brokers news videos and that an associate of XtraJet had asked his firm to assess the value of the video shot on the jet, but that he declined to be involved after consulting with legal counsel.
Tur, a veteran pilot and newsman, is best known for videotaping with his wife the beating of Reginald O. Denny during the Los Angeles riots in 1992.
On Tuesday, FBI agents served subpoenas on XtraJet's Santa Monica headquarters and seized camera equipment and tapes involved in the recording.
Later that day, Geragos won a temporary restraining order against the company barring it from selling, distributing or showing the videos taken during the flight until at least a December court hearing.
Geragos could not be reached for comment.
Stanley Stone, Borer's and XtraJet's attorney, said Wednesday that the company has substantial defenses against the suit filed by Jackson and Geragos
Borer insisted that he did not know how the secret recordings were made and said that he is not the subject of the FBI's investigation into the tapings. "I haven't been accused of doing anything wrong," he said.
Two months ago, the city of Los Angeles sued Borer and XtraJet for $4 million, alleging that seven airplanes operated by the company have racked up numerous violations of noise standards at Van Nuys Airport. The complaint seeks to bar Borer and the company from using the airport for three years.
Long before his name surfaced in the Jackson case, documents and interviews show, Borer has had brushes with the law.
Most notably, federal records show, Borer was criminally prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in 1988. Though the nature of the case could not be determined immediately, records also show that a Jeffrey M. Borer was listed as an inmate in the federal prison system and was released in 1991.
Borer declined to discuss his prison time other than to say, "It is a matter of public record." Asked about Borer's prison history, his attorney, Stone, said: "I believe he has served time in prison."
Stone also said Borer is not a government informant.
"There was no such interaction," he said, adding that any suggestion that Borer was an informant would harm his reputation.
But other sources Wednesday said Borer's relationship with the FBI spanned years and did not become a public issue until Tuesday when authorities realized, as agents served subpoenas at XtraJet, that Borer was a company executive.
Though no details were immediately available about Borer's work for the government, one source said the airplane executive had been assisting agents for some time.
"He's not closed as an informant," the source said, adding, "Not yet."
For recent Times coverage on Jackson, go to latimes.com/jackson.
Times staff writer Hugo Martin and research librarian Robin Mayper contributed to this report.