Jacksons vs AEG - Day 67 – August 12 2013 – Summary

Katherine Jackson is in court

Prior to beginning of session, attorneys discussed with judge about the next witnesses/exhibits outside the presence of the jury. (ABC7) Forensic accountant William Ackerman is today’s witness. He’ll be testifying about Jackson’s financial history, spending. Testimony got a late start (about 50 minutes) because attorneys were arguing issues about Ackerman’s opinions and whether he could testify. Plaintiff’s attorney Brian Panish argued that Ackerman’s testimony should be blocked because it was cumulative. Panish argued that another defense witness, Eric Briggs, had testified about Jackson’s debts and Ackerman’s opinion would be redundant. AEG Live’s lawyers however argued that Ackerman’s opinion was about Jackson’s financial history and spending and weren’t duplicative. There are 200,000 pages of Jackson’s financial records that form the basis of Ackerman’s opinion. Many are from the 2000s. The judge agreed to allow Ackerman to testify, but did tell AEG to take out certain pictures from slides that will be shown to the jury. For instance, the judge told AEG to take out slides showing a BMW and the Harvard logo. AEG said those were things Jackson’s children might be entitled to. Judge also said AEG shouldn’t show an image of Carolwood mansion to reflect the Jacksons’ housing (AP)

This afternoon, plaintiff’s attorneys argued that some of Ackerman’s slides and testimony should be stricken. Plaintiff’s lawyer Brian Panish says Ackerman’s testimony about Michael Jackson’s consumption, which includes interest payments, is improper. Panish argued that Ackerman’s figures create an improper comparison to plaintiff’s expert Arthur Erk’s figures on MJ’s expenses. AEG Live’s lawyers say the issue can be fixed on cross-examination, but the judge wants to hear more arguments in the morning. Some of his testimony and charts shown to the jury may get stricken, but the judge made clear she wants to think about it some more. (AP)

William Ackerman Testimony

AEG Direct

When Ackerman took the stand he brought 2 large boxes of documents. Ackerman started pulling out binders large and small and stacking them behind him in the witness box. It took him 3 minutes to set up. (AP)

AEG called a new witness on the stand, William Ackerman. Before seating down, Ackerman laid out several large binders from 2 boxes. Sabrina Strong did direct examination of Ackerman. She asked how tall he is. The expert said he’s 6’7″. Ackerman was asked to determine the amount of support the plaintiffs received and could expect to receive had MJ lived. (ABC7)

He said he did an extensive review of the financial information provided to him, did a financial evaluation of MJ. Ackerman works currently at Freeman & Mills, consulting in accounting, finance, economics, business practices, primarily business settings. He's been working in the accounting firm for a little over 22 years. Ackerman said his work is primary is the damage areas, says he works on several cases and they are all different. He's works in all kinds of civil litigation and some criminal matters. The only litigation his firm does not do is marital dissolution. Ackerman studied Business Administration with emphasis in Accounting at Georgetown University. Ackerman testified in a little over 60 cases, all as expert witness. He said the split is half between being hired by plaintiffs/defendants. "I don't choose my clients, they choose me" Ackerman said. The witness has testified on behalf of O'Melveny & Myers about a handful of times. He has also worked on a handful wrongful death matters. Ackerman said he probably worked on 1,000 matters where he looked at damages issues. (ABC7) He is a forensic accountant with the consulting firm Freeman and Mills Inc., which handles a lot of litigation-type cases. Ackerman said he has testified in approximately 60 trials and arbitration proceedings. He said his experience was pretty evenly split between being a witness for plaintiffs and defense cases. (AP)

Ackerman said he was asked to try to determine the amount of support plaintiffs would received/could expect to receive had MJ lived. Scope of Work: Michael Jackson's finances, Support, contributions, gifts and benefits, Present value calculation. Ackerman explained he developed what we would describe as a financial profile of Michael Jackson. Ackerman said he/his firm reviewed over 200,000 pages of documents. About 10 people in his office worked in reviewing these documents. Strong showed Ackerman a question that was posed to Arthur Erk. He was asked if he reviewed thousand of documents in this case. Erk responded he had access to them but decided to read only what he thought was pertinent. Erk's testimony: Otherwise we'd spend millions of dollars and I didn't think this was necessary. Ackerman said he reviewed all docs, didn't amount to millions of dollars. He testified his firm spent between 2800 - 3000 hours on this case. Ackerman said it probably took well over 2000 hours just to read all the documents. He spent between 650 and 700 hours alone. Ackerman's hourly rate is $475. Other people in his firm charge between $325 to $75 an hour. "We submitted invoices in excess of $800,000" Ackerman testified. He said he doesn't know how it's possible to opine without reading all. (ABC7) Ackerman’s firm has billed more than $800,000 for work in the case, which involved compiling Jackson’s financial history. (AP) 

Before the lunch break, he described in great detail Jackson’s debts and earnings. He said MJ died $400-500 million in debt. His underlying testimony so far has been to show that Jackson was spending millions more per year than he was earning in the 90s, 2000s. Many millions of dollars each year were spent repaying interest on loans, Ackerman said. He also didn’t have complete records on Jackson’s personal spending in the early 2000s, so he said his debts for that time period were probably higher than shown on his charts. In 2001, Ackerman Jackson’s income was about $15 million, but his expenses were roughly $32-33 million. One of his charts showed Jackson’s spending versus what plaintiff’s expert Arthur Erk calculated for MJ’s expenses. Erk projected that Jackson would spend roughly $7 million a year if he had lived. Ackerman said the historical figures were much higher. For instance, in 2009, Ackerman said Jackson would have spent close to $30 million on annual interest payments alone. The interest payments were for loans taken against his Sony-ATV and Mijac music catalogs and various properties (Neverland, Hayvenhurst.) (AP)

Ackerman said he looked at books and records for Michael Jackson and was asked to measure what MJ paid to plaintiffs for support. Ackerman: I think it's important to share with jury that there was some doubt of his ability to continue to provide support. (ABC7)

A. Spending Exceeded Income
B. Growing and Significant Debt
C. Profile of Financial Condition

"MJ's spending exceeded his income on an annual basis," Ackerman testified. "He had significant debt over time, the interest had become more and more burdensome to meet," Ackerman described. Ackerman said he put together a profile of Michael Jackson's financial condition. (ABC7)

He said he focused on 2001 to June 2009 period, since the financial information was the most complete during this period. Ackerman: During the last decade of his life the primary source of income was Sony/ATV catalogue and his own MIJAC catalogue. Ackerman said the Sony/ATV catalogue merged in 1995. As part of deal, MJ received a substantial amount of money. The expert said MJ was to continue to receive $6.5 million every year for royalties and $11 million from 2008 and forward until 2014. Ackerman: MJ had ATV catalogue alone and received $115 million over a three year period of time for the merge with Sony's catalogue in 1995. Ackerman said MJ paid $49,5 million dollars for the ATV catalogue, which then was merged with Sony. (ABC7)

Ackerman said MJ had multiple corporations. He said most of his expenses were from one of his entities and not by himself as a person. Ackerman testified that some times the spending on a given company would be bigger than the income, would have a loss. Michael Jackson Company is the corporation that entered into an agreement with AEG. (ABC7)

Strong showed a chart of MJ's Finances -- Spending Exceeded Income
2001: $17 million in income, $33/34 million in expenses
2008: $26 million in income, $42 million in expenses (ABC7)

Ackerman said 2002, 2003 and 2004 there were no personal expenditures record. So they were not included in the graphic. The expert said those were the years MJ was living at Neverland Ranch. And no expenses were reported. Ackerman said there were not a lot of books and records provided for the year 2007. MJ had some sort of dispute with his business manager. (ABC7)

Ackerman said MJ was spending $15-20 million a year on average more than his income. (ABC7)

Michael Jackson's Finances – Expenses. Erk: $6.8 million in consumption. Ackerman said in 2008 it was $41/42 million in consumption. Strong: What things did you see MJ would spend? Ackerman: The large expenditures was in interest. Ackerman: All expenses of the different businesses he had, payroll, Neverland Ranch was very expensive to maintain. Ackerman said MJ was a generous man and donated a lot money to charity. He also gave a lot of gifts to different people at different times. The expert said he had to take care of the animals at Neverland, had people on the payroll, spent half a million dollars in amusement rides. (ABC7)

Despite receiving millions of dollars annually from his song catalogs, Michael Jackson year after year spent more than he earned, including $30 million in annual debt payments, a forensic accountant testified Monday. William R. Ackerman, testifying as a defense witness on behalf of AEG Live in the wrongful-death trial, offered a detailed look at the singer's finances, telling jurors that Jackson spent money on donations to charity, gifts, travel, art and furniture. "He spent a lot of money on jewelry," Ackerman said with a chuckle. Neverland Ranch -- which Ackerman called "a mini-theme park," with its maintenance staff, zoo and train that traveled around the property -- was also a huge drain on his income, the certified public accountant testified. Still, he said, “consistently, his largest expenditure was interest expense. He spent a ton of money on interest.” Jackson's biggest expense was $30 million in annual payments on his debt when he died in 2009. (LATimes)

Ackerman said Michael Jackson had to take on more and more debt to keep going, since income was not sufficient. Strong showed chart with MJ's Interest on Debt, which is the amount of incurred interest over the years. Ackerman said from 2001/2004 the annual interest on debt was from $13 to $15 million, 2005: $20 million, 2006: $25 million, 2009: $30 million. "This is the cost to rent somebody else's money," Ackerman explained. He said the interest rate was 16,8%, almost 17%. Ackerman said this amount was all separated from his monthly expenses. Ackerman: He was close to about $400 million on long-term debt, had other debts to credit he received. Total debt is $400 and $500 million. Ackerman said he saw on documents that MJ was as much as $30 million in debt as early as 1993. "It continued to grow over time to the final numbers," Ackerman said. Strong showed chart with MJ's outstanding debt: 2001 -- $231 million, 2005 -- $275 million, 2006 -- $325 million. Ackerman said in 2007 it was $400 million, plateau there until his passing in 2009. (ABC7)

Interest on the loans grew over the years, ranging from a little less than 7% to 16.8% annually, Ackerman said in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom. As early as 1993, Jackson owed $30 million, a figure that grew to $140 million by 1998. From June 2001 through June 2009, Jackson's debt increased by about $170 million. When he died, Jackson owed $400 million to $500 million, Ackerman testified. Ackerman said Jackson received no loans after 2007, and at the time of his death, he was three to four months behind on payments for the San Fernando Valley home where his mother lived. "He was tapped out," Ackerman said. (LAtimes)

He provided details of Jackson's 1985 purchase of the ATV music catalog, which contains many Beatles songs, for $49.5 million. Jackson merged it with Sony's catalog a decade later, receiving $115 million, along with a guaranteed $6.5 million a year, which was increased to $11 million annually in 2008. The CPA also testified that Jackson's tours in the 1990s were not moneymakers. He said Jackson broke even on the Dangerous tour and lost $11.2 million on the HIStory tour. (LAtimes)

Ackerman said MJ received in Oct 1995-97 -- received $150 million from Sony. But he spent $32 million in 1993, $140 million in 1998. Strong asked what that means. "He liked to spend money," Ackerman responded. (ABC7)

Ackerman said he believes Dangerous tour in 1993 broke even or lost money. He reviewed Gongaware's testimony with that info. Ackerman said the books and records shows MJ lost $11.2 million in the "HIStory" tour. The expert said MJ created new companies for the "HIStory" tour and he analyzed the books, which showed he lost money. (ABC7)

Strong showed chart with MJ's Assets Securing Debt in June 2009: 
50% Interest in Sony/ATV Catalog MIJAC Catalog - $ 300,000,000
Neverland Residence - $ 71,509,703
Hayvenhurst Residence - $ 23,000,000
Lindley Residence - $ 3,985,211
Loan Balance - $383,500
Total: $ 398,878,414 in asses securing debt. (ABC7)

The title of Hayvenhurst house was in Michael and LaToya's name, Ackerman said. "After 2008, people were just not giving him more money," Ackerman said. Ackerman said after 2007 no debt had been incurred. "Nobody would lend him money," he said. "He was tapped out," the expert explained. He said his opinion is based on the documents he reviewed in the case. Ackerman: He was having troubles to meet his obligations in the period of 2007-2009, as well as other periods. The Hayvenhurst residence was 3-4 months in arrears by June 2009. (ABC7)

Ackerman said he does not know the value of Sony/ATV catalogue. Strong: Assuming Briggs testified value of MJ's interest in the catalogue is roughly in line w/ debt, is that consistent he was tapped out? Ackerman: Yes, ma'am. "I don't think he was able to borrow any more money," Ackerman said. (ABC7)

Ackerman said the $300 million loan against the Sony/ATV catalogue was due in full in December of 2010. If not paid, Ackerman said he'd assume MJ would not receive the amount he was to receive annually for royalties. Strong: I want you to assume, if MJ did not have the Sony/ATV catalogue, do you have an opinion if he would receive $6.5 to $11 million? "The income goes away," Ackerman said. (ABC7)

Strong showed another chart of MJ's Finances.
Profile of Financial Condition:
1- Significant Debt
2- High Borrowing Rates
3- Catalog Cash Flow Committed to Servicing Debt
4- Bankruptcy Remote Trust Formed in 2006
5- Neverland
6- Hayvenhurst

Ackerman said that, based on his review of the documents, the royalties were dedicated to repay the debt. Ackerman: Mr. Jackson never got paid that money from royalties, it went straight to the lender. "It was earmarked to either pay the interest of the debts or the debts themselves," Ackerman said. Ackerman said he believes lenders were getting nervous in 2006, formed bankruptcy remote trust that included Sony/ATV and MIJAC catalogues. A bankruptcy remote trust is established to protect the interest of the lender in case the borrower files for bankruptcy. Ackerman said his understanding is that the trust would protect the catalogues against other borrowers. Bankruptcy remote trust was formed in March 2006. It was called "New Horizon Trust." (ABC7)

Neverland: Ackerman said about $23 million had been lent against Neverland. "It has become very close to foreclosure by Colony Capital in 2008," Ackerman said about Neverland. Colony Capital came in and replaced primary lender -- non-interest bearing loan to MJ for $23 million. (ABC7)

Ackerman said the mortgage at Hayvenhurst was delinquent 3-4 months and was scheduled to be foreclosed on June 26, 2009, a day after MJ died. "He was in a very precarious financial condition," Ackerman opined. "He dig himself in pretty good hole." (ABC7)

Ackerman calculated Annual Support to Plaintiffs Around 2009: Katherine - $1,167,000, Prince -- $785,000 , Paris -- $780,000, Blanket -- $780,000. Annual Support for Katherine Jackson included all expenses for Hayvenhurst, Auto/RV,Travel, Gifts. (ABC7)

Annual Support for Katherine Jackson alone:
Hayvenhurst mortgage on March 2009 -- 31,513/month
Hayvenhurst property taxes -- 34,000/year
Hayvenhurst repairs and maintenance -- $111,000/year
Hayvenhurst homeowner insurance -- $36,000/year
Hayvenhurst utilities -- $64,000/year
Hayvenhurst employees/independent contractors -- $252,000/year
(groundkeeper, butler, housekeeper, personal assistant, driver, security man)
Hayvenhurst security/alarms -- $69,000/year
Food allowance -- $30,000/year (just for Mrs. Jackson)
MJ had given Mrs. Jackson a top of the line Mercedes and recreational vehicle -- $118,000/year
Travel -- $35,000/year (Family vacations for 2010 was $118,362 and 2011 was $160,471)
Gifts -- $40,000/year (ABC7)

Ackerman said the books and records listed out the gifts MJ gave to Mrs. Jackson. In some years, there was no gift amount listed. Strong: What you see on the records, it decreased overtime? Ackerman: It appears that way. (ABC7)

Prince, Paris and Blanket Annual Support Around 2009rince -- $785,000, Paris -- $780,000, Blanket -- $780,000. The difference is because Prince was going to Buckley School, which Ackerman said is higher than home schooling for Paris & Blanket in 2009. (ABC7)

Rent -- $1,200,000
Butler -- $31,000
Housekeeper -- $31,000
Chef (Kai Chase) -- $128,000
Utilities -- $64,000
Total Annual Cost -- $1,454,000
25% Allocation per child -- 364,000
Education: Buckley School in 2013 is $36,000 for ages 12-17. In 2009 was $28,000.
2013 cost of private university -- $63,000 (Harvard). Ages 18-21. In 2009, it was $51,000. This included tuition and room and board.
Travel: $122,000 per child (Ackerman said MJ would travel by private plane and would rent entire floors of hotels.)
Security: $69,000 per child per year
Caretaker: $22,000 per child per year
Auto: Ackerman said MJ had acquired 2 top of the line Escalades. $42,000 for MJ and 3 children, about $14,000 per child. Ackerman said he projected kids to have own cars at 16. He testified he thinks the dream car would be a convertible BMW -- $35k/year/child.
Groceries: $17,000 per year per child
Other: $121,000 per year per child for toys, gifts, clothes, electronics, books, jewelry, boats, places. Ackerman said he gave $110,000 cushion in the last category to catch all that was possibly missed. (ABC7)

Ackerman used a discount rate of 18% to put numbers in present value.
Katherine Jackson -- Projected Support
From 2009 - 2019
Period 1 - Ending 12/31/2009 -- $557,000
Period 11 - Ending 6/30/2019 -- $6,111,000
Projected Support to Plaintiffs (cumulative)
Period 1 - End 12/31/2009 -- for KJ and children -- $1,684,000
Period 11 - End 12/31/2019 -- for KJ and children -- $19,452,000
Period 16 - End 12/31/2024 -- for KJ and children -- $21,498,000 (ABC7)

Ackerman said Mrs. Jackson's life expectancy was 10 years from 2009. So he stopped calculating future earnings based on that. For MJ, he calculated 15 and half years of life expectancy, although he didn't offer his opinion on how much MJ would live. (ABC7)

After the lunch break, Ackerman reiterated a point he made this morning, that Jackson was “tapped out,” meaning he couldn’t borrow any more. Ackerman also told the jury that one major piece of Jackson’s debt was a $300 million loan against his share of the Sony-ATV catalog. The note on the Sony-ATV catalog loan would have come due in 2010, Ackerman said. Defaulting on the loan would impact MJ’s income, he said. Ackerman also told the jury about missed payments on Jackson’s Neverland property and on his family’s Hayvenhurt home. “He dug himself a pretty good hole,” Ackerman said of Jackson’s debt, adding that he isn’t sure MJ could have continued to support his family at the same level that he had been supporting them. He pegged that figure at about $3.5 million/year for Katherine, MJ’s kids. The $3.5 million figure was Ackerman’s estimate of support Jackson was providing his family in 2009. The consultant gave detailed breakdowns of how he arrived at those figures for the jury through various slides showing payment breakdowns. The slides showed how much was spent on security, schooling, utilities, food and other expenses for Katherine & the kids. Ackerman then went into another set of figures, which were projected levels of support based on risk calculations he said are commonly made. Part of his analysis involved estimating Katherine Jackson’s life expectancy until about age 89 based on a table used in court proceedings. Ackerman made no projection of how long MJ’s life-expectancy would have been, but projected out his likely level of support for 15years.The bottom line figure of his projection was $21.5 million dollars for Jackson’s mother and children if MJ had lived for 15 ½ years past ’09. The chart was basically a sliding scale, allowing the jury to see Jackson’s projected support if they think his life expectancy was shorter. (AP)

"He would have to have some form of income to pay those figures," Ackerman testified.

Strong concluded her examination. (ABC7)

Jackson cross

Brian Panish did cross examination. Ackerman said he has an engagement letter with AEG for work in this case. Panish asked if he has a contract. He said yes. Attorney asked if he could bring a copy of it. Ackerman said the general requirement is to have a written agreement before work begins. OMM hired Ackerman in another case, the Cussler case. Bert Fields was the opposing counsel. Anschutz company was one of the defendants. Panish: Did your firm bill in excess of $1 million for that case? Ackerman: I don’t know exactly, but I’d not be surprised. (ABC7)

The bill of $800,000 to $825,000 was for work up until July. Since then, Ackerman worked another 60-100 hours. Ackerman said he keeps time records for the he does. “I don’t know what the industry standard is, I know what we do in our firm.” Panish: A professional way would be to itemize your bill, right? Ackerman: I don’t know, I know what our company does. Ackerman estimated the bill for last month to be between $50,000-$100,000, which is on top of the $800,000-$825,000 already billed. (ABC7)

Panish: You were very critical of Erk’s consumption amount, right? Ackerman: I was very critical of it. (ABC7)

“I didn’t come up with specific number, but probably in the $30-$50 million range,” Ackerman testified. (ABC7)

Panish: How much did MJ’s debt increase from 2007 versus 2008? Ackerman: Approximately $1.5 million. Panish: And from 2008 versus 2009? Ackerman: I show the debt going up only a few hundred thousand dollars. Ackerman: Looking at this graph, it’s an average of somewhere between $30-$35 million. (ABC7)

Ackerman said he, himself, did not read all the documents related to the case. (ABC7)

Panish: Who were the officers of Michael Jackson Company, sir? Ackerman: I know Michael Jackson was. Panish: Was it a single liability company? Ackerman: I don’t recall, have to look up. Ackerman: Michael Jackson Company was created on Feb 8, 2007. It’s a Delaware company. (ABC7)

Panish: Was Dr. Tohme sitting on $5 million of Michael Jackson’s money in 2009? “I made aware that Dr. Tohme may had been holding some money for MJ,” Ackerman responded. Panish: Did you testify in your deposition that it was stated by a number of people that Dr. Tohme was incompetent and dishonest. “Some people were of that frame of mind,” Ackerman answered. Panish: $5 million would’ve covered the entire expense at Hayvenhurst in 2009, correct? Ackerman: Yes, sir. (ABC7)

“It appears that he was providing support,” Ackerman said. “I know that Janet Jackson was also providing, so you have to draw the line where life necessities is,” Ackerman explained. Ackerman said Mrs. Jackson testified Janet was giving her $10,000 a month. “Mr. Panish, I’m just trying to say that she was also being subsidized by his daughter,” Ackerman explained. Panish: Do you agree with me that Mr. Jackson was paying for his mother’s life necessities? Ackerman: He was providing the bulk of the support for his mother. (ABC7)

Panish: What was the standard life expectancy for Michael Jackson? Ackerman: I don’t know. Panish: Did you read that MJ had 28.8 year life expectancy? Objection — sustained (ABC7)


Panish told the judge this is a good point to stop. He says he needs to argue with the court. Judge responded: “And you can’t wait!” (ABC7)