Michael Jackson's personal doctor was in financial trouble when he signed on with the late singer, the Associated Press reports.
Dr. Conrad Murray owed a total of at least $780,000 in judgments against him and his medical practice, outstanding mortgage payments on his house, delinquent student loans, child support and credit cards.
Court records released after authorities searched his home this week as part of a manslaughter investigation into Jackson's death, might help give a motive to the cardiologist — whose job, at $150,000 per month, was to keep the pop star healthy through a series of concerts in London.
"Here he is, dealing with one of the most famous people in the world," Steve Cron, a criminal defense attorney and adjunct professor at Pepperdine University's law school, told the Associated Press. "There may have been a great deal of pressure to do what Michael Jackson wanted, give him the drugs he wanted, treat him the way Michael Jackson wanted to be treated, even if it wasn't in keeping with medical protocol."
Authorities investigating Jackson's death at his rented Los Angeles mansion believe Murray gave the star a fatal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol to help him sleep, according to a law enforcement official.
If prosecutors bring charges, Murray's financial trouble "does potentially provide evidence of good motive for financial-based crimes, including prescribing when there is not a medical necessity," said Rebecca Lonergan, a former federal prosecutor of health care fraud cases.
Murray was hired through Jackson's promoter in May, when he was under court orders to pay more than $363,000 for equipment for his heart clinic, and was ordered in April to repay $71,000 in student loans dating to the 1980s. Two lawsuits claiming he owes $240,000 more for unpaid equipment are pending in Nevada courts.
Also, Murray's home is in "pre-foreclosure" after he failed to make payments on his $1.66 million loan, records show. He stopped paying the $15,000-per-month mortgage in December and could lose the home by November, said Mary Hunt, the foreclosure officer handling the case.
Neither Jackson nor AEG Live, the promoter for the London concerts that was prepared to pay him $150,000 a month, paid Murray for the two months the doctor worked for the pop star, according to Chernoff.
"Dr. Murray has lost the ability to make a living as a result of this investigation," Chernoff said. "His hope is he can forestall foreclosure until he can once again begin working as a doctor."
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