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Trutanich investigates city's role in Michael Jackson memorial

Los Angeles' city attorney says there may be 'criminal aspects' to the planning of the event, which cost the city an estimated $1.4 million. The probe is ongoing.

July 22, 2009|Phil Willon

Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich on Tuesday said his inquiry into the city's role in providing support for the Michael Jackson memorial may have unearthed some "criminal aspects," although he added that he could not discuss details.

Trutanich's assistants are investigating events leading up to the July 7 memorial, including which city officials authorized the deployment of thousands of police officers. The city spent an estimated $1.4 million for police protection, street services and other crowd-control measures for the event at Staples Center in downtown L.A., although at least one City Council member said the costs could be as high as $4 million.

"Our investigation has taken an unanticipated turn that raises both civil and criminal aspects," Trutanich told the council Tuesday. "Ethical considerations and the need to protect the integrity of the investigation prevent me from discussing anything related to the criminal investigation."

He said only that his office's investigators were continuing to review the matter and interview witnesses.

"I don't even know if there's any crimes that have been committed," Trutanich told reporters after he appeared before the council. "We took a turn in a different direction and we're investigating. That's it."

Trutanich met with council members in a closed session to discuss a possible legal action by the city to recoup some of the costs for the memorial.

City Councilwoman Jan Perry, who was serving as acting mayor during the memorial, questioned Trutanich's decision to raise the specter of a possible criminal prosecution before an investigation into the allegation is completed.

"I think that it's probably more logical to announce something when you're ready to do it," Perry said.

On Tuesday, the council ordered the city administrative officer and chief legislative analyst to determine what city resources were used for the memorial and to audit all city expenditures.

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phil.willon@latimes.com

Times staff writers David Zahniser and Joel Rubin contributed to this report.

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