AEG Live CEO Grilled Over Events In Michael Jackson Death Trial
May 30, 2013 at 4:15 AM (PT)
AEG LIVE Co-CEO PAUL GONGAWARE was on the stand YESTERDAY (5/29) in the trial over MICHAEL JACKSON's death, and CNN reports, "he couldn't remember sending key e-mails or approving budgets that included $150,000 a month for Dr. CONRAD MURRAY. GONGAWARE also denied thinking that JACKSON's health was frail in the last days of his life, despite e-mails from others in the production suggesting the singer needed help."
JACKSON's mother and his three children are suing AEG LIVE, claiming the company "negligently hired, retained or supervised MURRAY."
AEG lawyers contend MICHAEL JACKSON hired MURRAY, and demanded AEG LIVE pay him to be his "This Is It" tour doctor.
MURRAY is currently in prison, having been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in JACKSON's drug overdose death.
CNN notes JACKSON's lawyer BRIAN PANISH "questioned GONGAWARE about an e-mail JACKSON's lawyers call the 'smoking gun,' which they argue shows AEG LIVE executives used MURRAY's fear of losing his lucrative job as JACKSON's personal physician to pressure him to have JACKSON ready for rehearsals despite his fragile health. Show director KENNY ORTEGA e-mailed GONGAWARE 11 days before JACKSON's death expressing concerns that MURRAY had kept JACKSON from a rehearsal the day before. ORTEGA also raised his own concerns about JACKSON's health. GONGAWARE testified on WEDNESDAY that he thought ORTEGA was 'over-reacting.' His e-mail reply to ORTEGA read: 'We want to remind (MURRAY) that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary. We want to remind him what is expected of him.' GONGAWARE, in a video deposition played in court on the first day of the trial, said he could not remember writing the e-mail."