By K.C. Arceneaux
RAW STORY COLUMNIST
On April 30, 2004, the indictment against pop-star Michael Jackson
was unsealed, allowing the press and the public to view the
charges against him. Jackson has been charged with four counts
of committing a lewd act upon a child, one count of attempting
to commit a lewd act upon a child, and four counts of administering
an intoxicating agent.
The additional charge of conspiracy, not included in the first
set of charges against him, included twenty-eight separate criminal
acts. Those alleged acts include child abduction, child imprisonment,
and extortion. Jackson pleaded not guilty to all counts.
On the same day that the indictment was unsealed, there was
another and far less public event unfolding, one that may have
a future impact on the Jackson case. Serious allegations of
a pattern of abuses among Santa Barbara law enforcement and
the DA's office, including District Attorney Tom Sneddon, were
made by Santa Barbara County dentist, Thambiah Sundaram, in
an interview on Online Legal Review Talk Radio. Sneddon is the
DA prosecuting the child-molestation case against Michael Jackson.
In the interview, conducted by Ron Sweet, Sundaram stated that
there was opposition to a non-profit medical clinic he operated.
Sundaram said that when city officials were unable to shut
down his clinic, he was arrested on multiple counts, including
impersonating a doctor, grand theft, and malicious mischief.
Sundaram's wife was arrested, as well. An employee at the clinic
was also charged, of committing a drive-by shooting. Neither
Sundaram, his wife nor the employee were convicted. Sundaram
said that he eventually won a judgment against Sneddon and the
DA's office for a substantial, six-figure amount, for causes
including conspiracy, false imprisonment, and other violations
of his civil rights.
Sundaram's allegations against Sneddon were serious, in that
he also claimed to have heard, first-hand, statements by Sneddon
and others in the DA's office that suggest that Santa Barbara
police persecution of innocent citizens is planned, common,
and often racially motivated. Sundaram said that in 1994, he
attended a fund-raising event with Tom Sneddon and other city
officials, where ways to "get Michael Jackson out of the
county" were discussed. Racist remarks were allegedly made
on that occasion. According to Sundaram, other alleged vendettas
were discussed as well, to the extent where he said it resembled
a Mafia planning session.
Sundaram's allegations are not an isolated instance. There
have been many complaints and law-suits against the Santa Barbara
DA's office. The new counts against Jackson may be consistent
with a pattern that Santa Barbara defense attorney Gary Dunlap
has called "stacking charges." In an interview on
MJJF Talk Radio, on January 2, 2004, Dunlap gave his opinion
that "stacking charges" was a common practice of the
DA's office, and claimed that this was a tactic used against
Sneddon had charged and prosecuted Dunlap on twenty-two counts.
After being acquitted on all counts, Dunlap is currently suing
Sneddon and others in the DA's office for $10 million for malicious
prosecution, and multiple other alleged offenses, including
civil rights violations. Dunlap said, ". . . I mean, it's
one thing to be charged with one crime and have a trial and
be acquitted on it, but the district attorney in Santa Barbara
has a policy that if they throw enough charges against you,
the jury is bound to convict you on something."
The above cases add to the pattern of what may be law enforcement
abuses of power in Santa Barbara. There are multiple civil cases
alleging false arrests, physical brutality by the police, tampering
with evidence and perjury, in cases settled out of court, at
tax-payer's expense. There is the example of George Beeghly,
whose case against Santa Barbara law-enforcement was also settled
out of court. The defendants in the case were Santa Barbara
Sheriff Jim Thomas, and Santa Barbara police officers. Beeghly
sued for illegal search and seizure, false arrest and false
imprisonment, the use of excessive force, conspiracy to violate
his civil rights, battery and failure to investigate, among
This information reveals a new side to the Michael Jackson
child-molestation case. The extent of the law suits for false
arrests, false imprisonments, condoning of excessive force by
the police, tampering with evidence, and multiple civil rights
violations suggests a culture of corruption among Santa Barbara
law-enforcement. The taxpayers of Santa Barbara have paid substantial
settlements in these cases.
DA Tom Sneddon's public relation's firm, Tellem Worldwide,
was contacted and, citing a protective order as prohibiting
their ability to respond, has declined to comment. It remains
unclear how the allegations made by Dr. Sundaram and the cases
involving Beeghly and Dunlap are affected by the protective
order issued in the Jackson case.
When Gary Dunlap was asked, in his interview, to comment on
the Jackson case, he said that he had no opinion one way or
another on the case. However, he went on to say, ". . .
the very fact that he's being prosecuted by Sneddon's office
does not cause me to have any reason to believe that he's guilty
in that, because of what I know about the district attorney's
office, I know that they do vindictive prosecutions on a routine
basis." If Dunlap's allegations are true, then an investigation
of the DA's office might shed new light on the Jackson case.
Source: The Raw Story