It's a punishment worthy of an unsmooth criminal.
A California judge has sentenced a man to eight months in prison for attempting to spy on Michael Jackson by planting video surveillance cameras on the jet the entertainer used before his humiliating arrest in 2003 on child-molestation charges.
U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz also ordered Arvell Jett Reeves, owner of Executive Aviation, the aircraft maintenance firm that serviced Jackson's jet, to spend an additional six months in a halfway house that provides drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment, and fined Reeves $1,000.
On Nov. 20, 2003, the "Thriller" superstar, accompanied by then attorney Mark Garagos, left Las Vegas on a Gulfstream twin-engine jet and arrived in Santa Barbara to surrender and be booked on charges he allegedly molested a 13-year-old boy. Jackson was eventually acquitted in June 2005.
Unbeknownst to Jackson and Geragos, prosecutors said Reeves and codefendant Jeffrey Borer, owner of charter plane company XtraJet, conspired to install two digital video cameras on the jet with the intention of recording the conversations and then selling the tapes to the tabloids "for a large sum of money."
The FBI launched a probe, which subsequently led to a three-count grand jury indictment against the two men.
In a plea agreement reached in March, Reeves and Borer pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy in exchange for prosecutors dropping two other counts--endeavoring to intercept oral communication and witness tampering.
Ironically, court papers show that Reeves goofed and improperly installed the audio equipment so the two cameras failed to record any sound, only video of Jackson and his legal counsel.
Due to his wife's illness, Borer's sentencing has been postponed until Oct. 4.
In other Jackson court action, the "Billie Jean" singer had a split decision in his legal spat with former pal F. Marc Schaffel. Schaffel sued Jackson for $3.8 million for failing to pay royalties, loans and expenses from various projects the two collaborated on several years ago. Jackson hit back with his own lawsuit accusing Schaffel of misappropriating and hiding funds.
Two weeks ago, jurors awarded Schaffel $900,000 in damages and turned around and gave Jackson $200,000.
There's been no comment on any of the legal goings-on from Jackson, who's currently holed up in Britain supposedly working on a comeback album.