Neverland's Crude Secret

Apr. 9 2008, Published 7:16 a.m. ET

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The Michael Jacksontrial now in jury deliberations isn’t really about childmolestation—it’s about oil. At least that’s the story Jacksondefense attorney Gary Dunlap is peddling. According to Dunlap,Santa Barbara DA Tom Sneddon’s sole motive for pursuingthe child molestation case is to get his hands on Jackson’s Neverland estate. “Neverland is a valuable asset—notonly the land itself, but the mineral rights,” Dunlap tellsRadar. “There have been surveys of the area, and many around hereare convinced Neverland may be sitting on some prime oil wells.”

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Dunlapsays that Sneddon—who he claims is eyeing political office in SantaBarbara—has calculated that if the cash-poor singer is convicted, he will have to forfeit his ranch to the county in order to cover the prosecution’s costs as required by law. The ensuing bonanza in black gold would then guarantee Sneddon the countyoffice of his choosing. But a spokesperson for the University of California at SantaBarbara’s geology department said she was unaware of any petroleum reserves on the property (though we didn’t ask about Jackson’s glovecompartment), and it turns out Dunlap may have his own reasons for going after the D.A.In 2003 Sneddon charged Dunlap with perjury, witness intimidation, and filingfalse documents in a case that the lawyer had handled. (Dunlap wasacquitted and is now suing for malicious prosecution.) Asked to comment on the oil allegations, a representative from the DA’s office said “That’s a new one,” before citing a gag order on the case.


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