LOS ANGELES (AP) — A top executive of the company that was producing Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” tour acknowledged reluctantly Tuesday that he negotiated a deal for the doctor that the pop star had chosen to accompany him.
But AEG Live executive Paul Gongaware testified his only role in the matter was negotiating the price of Dr. Conrad Murray’s services in compliance with what Jackson asked him to do.
Gongaware said that neither he nor anyone at the entertainment giant investigated Murray’s background or credentials.
“The fact that he had been Michael Jackson’s personal physician for three years was good enough for me,” Gongaware said.
Gongaware, the Co-CEO of AEG Live, testified in the Los Angeles trial as a hostile witness called by lawyers for Jackson’s mother in her negligent-hiring lawsuit.
He came under aggressive examination by plaintiff’s attorney Brian Panish on whether AEG or Jackson was responsible for hiring Murray, who was ultimately convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the superstar’s death.
Jackson died in 2009 after being given a powerful anesthetic.
Asked if he knew that Murray was in financial difficulties when he took the job as tour doctor, Gongaware answered no.
He said that Murray initially asked for $5 million to travel to London with Jackson and tend to him during the tour.
“I just told him it wasn’t going to happen,” he said, recalling that Jackson then suggested offering him $150,000 a month.
“Michael Jackson insisted on it and recommended him and it was not for me to tell him no,” said Gongaware, who is a defendant in the multibillion-dollar lawsuit.
“I wanted to provide what was necessary for him to do his job…He wanted a doctor and I wanted him to be healthy.”
Even after the offer of $150,000, Murray wasn’t satisfied.