- Title: VARIOUS: Michael Jackson is ordered to shut down his Neverland Valley Ranch
- Date: 10th March 2006
- Summary: (W3) BERLIN, GERMANY (FILE - NOVEMBER 19, 2002) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF HOTEL JACKSON DANGLING HIS BABY OVER HOTEL BALCONY
- Reuters ID: LVAA1E4UM1LWZZJH44LQHGCSN5M2
- Duration: 00:00:09
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz
- Story Text: Michael Jackson was ordered to shut down his Neverland Valley Ranch on Thursday (March 9) by California authorities who have fined the pop star $169,000 for failing to pay his employees or maintain proper insurance.
Jackson's sprawling ranch in the central California foothills was closed, at least temporarily, by an agent of the State Labor Commissioner after the office discovered that his worker's compensation policy had lapsed in January.
Jackson on Thursday was fined $69,000, or $1,000 per employee, for allowing his insurance to lapse. Earlier this week, authorities cited him for violating state labor law by failing to pay at least 30 employees since December 2005. A letter for that citation imposes a $100,000 fine and demands that he make good on $306,000 in unpaid wages.
Spokesman for the state Department of Industrial Relations, Dean Fryer, told Reuters that he had visited the ranch in the morning, requesting to meet management but was refused, and issued the stop order to a security guard at the front gate.
Fryer said local animal welfare officials had been asked to care for the inhabitants of Neverland's zoo.
He said that Jackson could reopen the ranch if he obtained workers compensation insurance but may face legal action by the state if he fails to pay the back wages.
Prosecutors asserted during Jackson's child molestation trial that the pop singer was in precarious financial shape due to mounting debts.
Jackson, who was cleared last June of criminal charges that he sexually abused a young boy at Neverland, has spent much of his time since the trial in Bahrain and was not at his ranch when authorities arrived. His representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.
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