Jackson Accuser's Mom Cops Plea

Janet Arvizo, whose son accused pop star of molestation in 2003, pleads no contest to welfare fraud; Jackson's defense used Arvizo's legal troubles to their advantage during the 2005 trial

By Natalie Finn Nov 14, 2006 3:44 AMTags

One of the myriad chapters of Michael Jackson's legal saga has come to a close. 

Janet Arvizo, the mother of the boy who accused the erstwhile King of Pop of molesting him when he was 13, pleaded no contest Monday to welfare fraud, wanting to "just move on with her life." 

She "always felt that she had a viable defense," Arvizo's attorney, Patricia Hattersley, said outside the courthouse, but "she doesn't want to put her family and her children through a major trial." 

Nope, wouldn't want that. 

Arvizo originally pleaded not guilty in June to one count of aid by misrepresentation and four counts of perjury by application for aid. She was accused of fraudulently obtaining $8,000 in government assistance while repeatedly lying about the true state of her finances. 

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson sentenced Arvizo—whose married name since 2004 happens to be Janet Jackson—to 150 hours of community service and ordered her to pay $8,600 in restitution. If Arvizo comes through with her end of the deal by Apr. 27, she won't have to return to court for a sentencing hearing. 

Hattersley said that she's planning to request that the case be expunged from her client's record once she has completed her sentence. 

Trying to peg her as a liar, Jackson's defense lawyers repeatedly attacked Arvizo's credibility during last year's child molestation trial, questioning her on the witness stand about why she continued to collect welfare when she already had $30,000 in the bank. Arvizo invoked her Fifth Amendment rights while testifying. 

Hattersley had argued that Arvizo received about $32,000 in a lawsuit settlement but that the money had been spent by the time she applied for aid.

Speaking for Jackson, who moved to Bahrain after being acquitted of all charges last June and is now hanging his hat in Ireland, attorney Brian Oxman expressed his satisfaction with the case's outcome. 

"This has been a long and very difficult process that started in 2003 [when Arvizo's son accused Jackson] and has finally ended with the equivalent of a guilty plea," Oxman said. "Michael Jackson doesn't want retribution, but has always felt he has been wronged."

Of course, pleading no contest is not the same as admitting guilt, but it's usually treated like a guilty plea for sentencing purposes.

Jackson is scheduled to appear at the World Music Awards in London on Wednesday to receive the Diamond Award, in honor of having sold upwards of 100 million records.