IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'The Abrams Report' for July 6

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Bree Smith, Brett Rivkind, Gregg McCrary, Charles Prestwood, Michael Wynne, Joel Androphy, Jim Moret, Andrew Ward, Larry Sutton

SUSAN FILAN, GUEST HOST:   Coming up, the sister of missing honeymooner George Smith speaks out about her lawsuit against Royal Caribbean cruise line and why she is so upset that her brother‘s wife settled with that company. 

The program about justice starts now. 

Hi everyone.  I‘m Susan Filan.  First up on the docket, the case of missing honeymooner George Smith.  His new bride Jennifer settled a lawsuit against the cruise line and George‘s sister is here with us live with her family‘s reaction. 

Hi, Bree.  How are you? 

BREE SMITH, BROTHER VANISHED FROM HONEYMOON CRUISE:  Hi, Susan.  We are hanging in there, thanks.

FILAN:  Well it‘s been a year now since your brother vanished from that cruise ship in the Mediterranean and your family has come right out and said that they think your brother was murdered.  The FBI continues to investigate this mysterious disappearance, even though they told his wife it would be months, not years before this case would be solved.  Take a listen.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY:  Do you think George was murdered? 


SCARBOROUGH:  What do you think? 

HAGEL-SMITH:  I guess we will see.  I am looking forward to ending this investigation.  I am hoping the FBI said initially it will be months, not years and I am going to remind them they have six more months because I‘m hoping that they will come up with something. 


FILAN:  Joining me now is George Smith‘s sister, Bree Smith, and the Smith family attorney Brett Rivkind.  Bree, yesterday was the one-year anniversary of your brother‘s disappearance.  Can you tell us what this last year has been like for you and your family?

SMITH:  It‘s been both devastating and surreal for us.  You know, Susan, we were very private people before this happened to my brother, but we realize that in order to fight for George we had to come out and we had to be outspoken and we had to be forward in pushing for answers for George.  And you know it took a lot out of my family and it continues to take a lot out of my family, but we will continue to push on for answers for George.  We will not give up on him.  And all we want is justice for George. 

FILAN:  Bree, I want you to take a listen to this statement from Jennifer, your brother‘s wife.  This is her talking. 

This has been the most difficult and challenging year of my life.  I will always love George and cherish our time together.  This journey has always been a matter of principle for me and I know that George would be proud of what has been accomplished thus far, in good faith, as we continue to seek answers.  The memory of George will always live on in my heart, that of our families and everyone who knew him.

Bree, I know you are outraged that she settled.  I know that you feel doubly betrayed once by his mysterious disappearance and secondly by the actions of his wife.  Tell us why you are so upset.

SMITH:  Why we‘re particularly upset, Susan, is when Jennifer proposed to settle that lawsuit, she is also settling my parents‘ claims because she is administrator of the estate.  And in settling my parents‘ claims in the wrongful death suit, she is cutting off our flow of information.  We‘re not going to be able to depose the same witnesses that we would be able to in our individual claims lawsuit, which has been filed. 

And we just don‘t understand why—you know we were misled and deceived by Jennifer for all of these months into thinking she would be filing a lawsuit, only to find out several hours before the public press release went out that she had settled my parents‘ interests without even informing them that she had. 

FILAN:  Right behind your back.  Bree, would it be fair to say that what you want is to know what happened to your brother and maybe what Jennifer wanted was money?  And that‘s why you feel by settling this case in your view prematurely you‘re not going to get the truth.  You‘re not going to get the answers to what happened? 

SMITH:  Well we feel confident that we will get the answers to what happened.  Unfortunately, we have had a bit of a roadblock put in front of us and you know we have to think of ways around this, but we are confident we will get answers and justice for George.  But it‘s fairly clear, I think, that Jennifer was far more interested in her financial settlement and moving on with her life than my parents.  All we want is Royal Caribbean to be held accountable.  And you know we would be happy with a one-cent jury verdict, however apparently Jennifer feels differently. 

FILAN:  Brett, let me ask you, I know—I‘ve talked to Bree throughout this last year.  I know that she wants justice for George.  She wants answers.  As her attorney you have filed this lawsuit on her behalf and I am guessing as much for the financial settlement because really that‘s all you can get in a civil case, as to get answers.  I want you to take a listen to this statement and get your comment on this. 

This is Royal Caribbean saying these are recklessly false charges that have already been proven wrong by the facts we publicly disclosed months ago.  We sympathize with the Smith family regarding the tragic loss of their son.  However, this lawsuit is unconscionable attack on our company and its employees who have done everything they could to fully support the authorities and their investigations.

Obviously, Brett, you don‘t agree with that statement.  Tell us why. 

BRETT RIVKIND, SMITH FAMILY ATTORNEY:  Well, obviously, first of all, Susan, we look forward to proving these facts in the proper arena, which is in a court of law, where people are under oath and sworn testimony and depositions.  I regret that Royal Caribbean feels it necessary to go out in the media and attack us and the family‘s allegations after settling with Jennifer, especially on the anniversary of the loss of George.

I think that‘s just continuing the outrageous behavior on the part of the cruise line.  For them to say the statements are reckless, we look forward to proving all of the allegations in the complaint.  They are all well supported by facts that have come out through the investigations, statements made by people who are actually on the ship.  And with respect to their type of behavior, all supported by other victims of crime who have been the subject of this kind of behavior at the expense of Royal Caribbean‘s hands and who are former employees who have come forward and revealed facts about their outrageous behavior in handling these type of cases. 

So we think it is irresponsible that the president of Royal Caribbean to try to use the media to come forward and say that these charges are reckless when he knows and Royal Caribbean lawyers know that now that the lawsuit is filed it would not be appropriate for myself or for their attorneys to go on TV and try to prejudge this case in the media.  We are going to prove it in the courtroom and all I can say is those allegations are very well supported by statements of passengers who have been on ships with Royal Caribbean, passengers who have information with respect to George Smith and ex-employees of Royal Caribbean cruise line as well as discovery in other cases, which shows exactly the type of ongoing behavior that we are alleging in that complaint constitutes outrageous behavior which inflicts severe emotional trauma on the victim‘s family here, the Smith family. 

And we look forward to proving it in a court of law.  We are seeking compensatory as well as punitive damage to deter this behavior in the future.

FILAN:  Bree, let me ask you.  Is it fair to say that you think that perhaps Jennifer settled this case to avoid depositions because you think that she is covering something up?  She knows more than she has told your family.  She knows more than she‘s told authorities and she does not want to have to face anybody under oath in a court of law or a sworn deposition. 

SMITH:  Well I can‘t speak to the amount of information that she gave to authorities.  I don‘t know if she has provided everything she knows to the authorities.  But I do know that when we were still in contact with Jennifer, you know up until three and a half months after my brother was gone she told us that she did not want to be deposed either in a criminal case or in a civil case. 

And at the time I thought this was very suspect.  But now I think the fact that she settled the lawsuit before she even filed is very suspicious, to be frank.  There is definitely information that she knows that she hasn‘t provided my family.  And how painful and so hurtful that my brother‘s wife would not tell my parents and myself everything she knows about that evening.  We have a right to know.  We need information about what happened to George. 

FILAN:  I think that‘s the most important thing.  You‘ve got to know what happened.  Take a listen.  This is her statement.  Take a listen to this.  I want you to respond.

This is her saying my discussions with Royal Caribbean have been very open, as well as extremely productive and informative.  I appreciate Royal Caribbean‘s cooperation, sincerity, and efforts moving forward, which I believe will play a major role in helping all of us find closure.

It‘s like a love fest between her and the party that she is suing.  And if you listen to her statements over the year they certainly didn‘t start out that way and she‘s speaking (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for closure for us.  Can you respond to that?

SMITH:  Yes.  Well first of all, her press release that you were just reading from is in direct opposition to her testimony given under oath to Congress.  And additionally it is in direct conflict with the complaint, the actual lawsuit which Jennifer‘s attorney, Jim Walker, had given to our attorney when they were pretending like they were actually going to file the suit.  And I just think, Susan, that it is amazing how a little bit of money can turn someone that‘s been so wronged into a poster child for Royal Caribbean and the cruise industry.

FILAN:  Bree, my heart has always gone out to you and your family.  I think you are one brave and courageous woman.  Please pass my condolences to your mom and dad.  Thanks for joining us.

SMITH:  Thank you, Susan.

FILAN:  Bree Smith, Brett Rivkind.  Joining me now...

RIVKIND:  Thank you.

FILAN:  ... is Gregg McCrary, former FBI profiler and a consultant for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.  How are you?


FILAN:  You have probably been listening in as we‘ve talked about Royal Caribbean and the Smith‘s lawsuit against them.  Let‘s get your take on their lawsuit and Royal Caribbean‘s response. 

MCCRARY:  Well you‘ve already sort of gone through Royal Caribbean‘s response and I don‘t—sort of underline that as well, is that it really is recklessly false regardless of what Mr. Rivkind says.  And if this does go forward I can tell you that the cruise line is looking very much forward to this, to being able to prove that it is recklessly false and all of the statements are in there are false.

They are accusing the cruise line of covering up and perhaps destroying or tampering with evidence and all of this sort of thing.  And it is just the opposite.  I have come in, I‘ve taken a look at everything.  And I can tell you that as a former FBI agent who worked these sorts of crimes that Royal Caribbean did it exactly the way I would liked to have seen it done as a FBI agent.  They sealed it off.  They called the authorities. 

It‘s been processed twice, once by the Turks, once by the FBI.  There was an FBI agent on scene that day, the day it was reported with the Turkish authorities, so there is no cover up.  There‘s no concealment or no tampering of evidence. 

FILAN:  Gregg...

MCCRARY:  The FBI is pretty astute at picking that up and if there was anything like that going on, I‘m sure we would see that investigation underway and it isn‘t.  And there have been no complaints from the bureau about the cruise line or their cooperation. 

FILAN:  Gregg, what is Royal Caribbean doing now to assist the FBI to solve this case? 

MCCRARY:  They provided everything that they had.  There‘s nothing more to provide at this point.  They will do anything that the FBI asks them to do at this point.  But—because they have been fully cooperative up to now, I am not aware of any recent requests that have come in, but they are standing ready, standing by, willing to assist and work with the FBI in any way they can. 

Because they would like to know what happened.  I understand completely how the family would like to know what happened.  When I was with the bureau I was on the National Advisory Board for parents of murdered children.  I‘ve been involved in families who really need to know and I understand that completely.

But I can tell you the cruise line would like to know as well.  And I can tell you they don‘t know.  I have looked at everything they have and there is nothing there that is conclusive.  There‘s nothing...

FILAN:  Well it‘s a mystery.  I think we will agree certainly on that.  Gregg, do you think Royal Caribbean thinks, though, that it‘s more likely murder than accident?  And I‘ve never thought suicide was a plausible theory, but do you know what they think?

MCCRARY:  I think that they think they don‘t know.  And I think that is the right position to be in.  I think they want to find out.  I agree with you.  I think suicide is far less likely, not even a—I mean you know as much as we could rule it out, I think we can rule that out.

It‘s either—the two logical choices are accident or foul play.  It‘s one or the other, I think, of the two best choices to look at.  And I don‘t know that Royal Caribbean—well I know they don‘t know and I don‘t think they have an opinion.  They are deferring to the authorities, which they should do and we all should do.  The FBI has the task of making that determination.  And we just need to let them work through this and hopefully they will make a determination at some point.

FILAN:  Do you think they think it‘s a cold case or do you think they are still working it hard?

MCCRARY:  I think they‘ve put a lot of time and effort into this thing.  Again, they are not sharing with me nor should they share with me exactly what is going on in the case...

FILAN:  But reading tealeaves, as having been one of them yourself, what do you make of it? 

MCCRARY:  Well they‘ve empanelled a grand jury.  They subpoenaed witnesses.  They‘ve got all this stuff going on.  And I can tell you about this right now, at this stage of the game, and I‘ve been here with other investigations, they have got tip lines and $100,000-reward and all of that.  I guarantee you now you‘re going to get false leads, people looking at $100,000 thing like hitting the lotto. 

They‘re going to call in with leads.  You may have false confessions.  You have all of this sort of stuff that begins to permeate a high profile investigation like that, so that‘s all things that I‘m sure they‘re working with and trying to sort out at this point.

FILAN:  Gregg McCrary, thanks so much for joining us. 

MCCRARY:  Happy to be here.  Thank you.

FILAN:  Coming up, former Enron employees are upset that justice will not be served after Ken Lay dies of a massive heart attack.  What is going to happen to his money now? 

And Michael Jackson back in court, sort of.  Jurors hear him begging for money from his former business partner to help keep Neverland ranch open.  We‘ve got the tape.

Plus, the woman, Scott Peterson‘s former mistress, now she is a blushing bride.  We‘ve got all of the details up next. 

Your e-mails send them to  Remember to include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.



KEN LAY, ENRON FOUNDER:  This is not the outcome that we expected.  I firmly believe I am innocent of the charges. 


FILAN:  Even though a jury found him guilty of fraud, conspiracy and other charges, former Enron founder Ken Lay seems to be cheating justice.  The ex CEO died of a heart attack early yesterday morning, which means not only will end his days in prison, but according to legal precedent his entire case will be erased from the records.  That cannot be good news for prosecutors who are trying to reclaim more than $43 million from Lay or for the countless victims of Enron‘s collapse. 

Joining me now is one of those victims.  Charles Prestwood lost 1.3 million in retirement funds after more than 30 years with the company.  Charles, thanks for joining me. 

CHARLES PRESTWOOD, FORMER ENRON EMPLOYEE:  Thank you, ma‘am.  It‘s an honor to be here.

FILAN:  Well we‘re honored to have you.  Tell us what it was like to work at Enron all of those years. 

PRESTWOOD:  Ma‘am, it was a great life because the work that we done, we were so proud that we had built the largest—the seventh largest corporation in the world.  We would look back over our life and we were just so proud of it, you know because we had worked hard and worked hard continually, everybody did to get Enron to meet our goals and achieve our quotas, you know.

FILAN:  And how did you end up losing all of your money?  I said 1.3, is that right?  That‘s how much money you actually lost.

PRESTWOOD:  Yes ma‘am, 1.3 mill, $1,310,505.22, I believe is the most accurate figures.  Well the reason that we lost that or the reason it‘s tied up and we‘re having to go after it, you know, in different manners of lawsuits and stuff, the reason for that is we believed them.  When they would tell us something, we believed it.  But I back up and look back over my life and the year of 2001, everyone that I talked to financially lied to me, everyone. 

The analysts in New York, they said Enron stock is strong, buy.  Buy all you can.  Ken Lay said the company has never been stronger, buy all of the stock you can and make sure and hang on to every share you got.  Don‘t get rid of any of it because things are going to turn around and things are going to get better.  And what makes it so bad is when he was telling us that, he was dumping his by the bucketfuls every day.  He was selling—making two sales per day every day that the stock market was open, you know.

FILAN:  So he was lining his pockets with all of your hard earned money and you lost all that money...

PRESTWOOD:  Yes ma‘am, that‘s exactly right. 

FILAN:  That money was going to be your retirement money, is that right?  And you‘re retired now...

PRESTWOOD:  Yes ma‘am...

FILAN:  ... and how are you living without that money? 

PRESTWOOD:  Well that was my savings money, you know which was for retirement.  I get my Social Security and a little Enron retirement, but the retirement that I get is from old Houston Natural Gas days, you know Houston Natural Gas days and...

FILAN:  But you don‘t have any money now yourself, is that right, Mr.


PRESTWOOD:  No ma‘am, I don‘t have any...

FILAN:  You are just really living on a very fixed income? 

PRESTWOOD:  I am living on a very, very skimpy fixed income, you know...

FILAN:  And how do you feel about this death?  How do you feel about Ken Lay‘s death now?

PRESTWOOD:  Ma‘am, I tell you what, I can‘t understand it because you know that‘s something that shouldn‘t have happened.  In other words, when I read in—I couldn‘t understand yesterday when he had a massive heart attack.  Now I know there are different kinds of heart attacks, there‘s different...

FILAN:  Yes.

PRESTWOOD:  ... phases of them and everything...

FILAN:  No, I can imagine how surprised you are.  I‘m so sorry to have to cut you off...


FILAN:  ... but we‘ve got to go.  Thank you so much for joining us.  We wish you all the best.

PRESTWOOD:  Yes, ma‘am. 

FILAN:  Joining me now is former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, Michael Wynne and criminal defense attorney Joel Androphy.  Thanks for joining us.



FILAN:  So how does the government get this money now?  I mean what‘s—I mean the conviction is erased and the government‘s got to try to get $43.5.  Are they going to try to get it all now from the co-defendant Skilling, who I guess they‘re looking at him for about 100 million.

MICHAEL WYNNE, FORMER ASST. U.S. ATTORNEY:  Well there are several different defendants.  The law in this circuit, as in most of the country, is that when the defendant dies before the first—his first opportunity to appeal is over the case is essentially abated.  That does not mean that no crime has been committed, but it does mean that a order of forfeiture or restitution cannot be based on a conviction that no longer exists. 

There are some fairly technical ways the government could still try to get the money through the criminal cases pending against the other individuals and trace the assets, but that is quite a chore.  There are also different civil remedies.  And as you pointed out in the last piece, there are many civil cases still pending and those will proceed against the Lay estate. 

FILAN:  So, Joel, is it unlikely then that all of his money, all of his estate will go to his wife?  Is it more likely that some creditors, if not the actual victims of the Enron collapse will get it? 

JOEL ANDROPHY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well at the end of day, the government was seeking forfeiture to get money to the victims.  There are other lawsuits pending.  There‘s been a lot made of this because the government loses the opportunity.  And one thing I will disagree with Mike, there is no longer a conviction against Ken Lay.

FILAN:  I think he said that. 

WYNNE:  Yes, I did.  There is no longer a conviction.  The fact remains that 12 people in this city found beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed these offenses and regardless...

ANDROPHY:  But that doesn‘t exist anymore.

WYNNE:  ... of a technicality.  That did happen and we can‘t erase history. 

It did happen...

FILAN:  But you‘re agreeing, gentlemen...


FILAN:  You‘re saying technically...


FILAN:  ... there‘s no conviction.

ANDROPHY:  ... the law tells you that you have to—the history is rewritten.  The law says there is no conviction at this point in time.  And the fact that 12 people adjudicated him guilty at this point is a non-event.  It doesn‘t exist.  It‘s expunged basically.

FILAN:  Wait a second you guys.  This is a silly argument because this is a semantic hair split.  There is no verdict, there is no conviction but it happens.  Historically a jury found him guilty.  There‘s no conviction, but a jury did find him guilty...


ANDROPHY:  History is rewritten, but the bottom line is in collecting this case the government was doing the same thing that the civil lawsuits are doing.  The government was trying to collect money for the victims here.  The fact that there‘s no forfeiture case, the fact that the government can‘t seek restitution in the criminal case doesn‘t change the dynamics of this whole thing.  There are other civil lawsuits.  The SEC is out there.  There‘s other mechanisms that the victims could get, so at the end of day to say that the victims are somehow going to lose something here and the Lay family is going to benefit by this is just not fair. 


FILAN:  Michael, do you think that in terms of the prosecutors, do you think they think his death alluded justice or allowed him to cheat justice or do you think really I mean this is the ultimate price.  It‘s a death penalty case in the end.

WYNNE:  I think it is a stretch to say that it is a death penalty case.  I am sure the case put a lot of strain on Mr. Lay and any time something like this happens, it is very, very sad for the family and we can‘t lose sight of that.  And I‘m sure the prosecutors have sympathy for the family members and for—really the humanity of what‘s happened here. 

It is unfortunate.  It‘s sad that this particular chapter of the Enron story is going to go unfinished.  It is unfortunate that the victims in this case will not have the opportunity of seeing Mr. Lay go to jail, which is the punitive part and part of the way...


ANDROPHY:  That‘s just not fair.  That‘s not fair because the law says and you have to respect, he was convicted based on the law.  You have to respect the fact that the law says that criminal law doesn‘t deal with postmortem issues.  So to say that it‘s unfair for the victims not to see Lay go to jail is just contrary to what the law suggests and tells everyone to respect.

WYNNE:  I said it‘s unsatisfying.  There are no viable grounds for appeal. 

I watched this case very closely.  It‘s really a technicality...

ANDROPHY:  Mike, you are not the appellate court.  There are serious grounds for this case to appeal.  There are a lot of people that couldn‘t testify in this case because the government wouldn‘t immunize a lot of people.  There are a lot of stories that were told in this case that could have been contradicted by witnesses that took the Fifth Amendment. 

That made it very difficult for this defense, the defenses up in New York and other cases, to try these cases.  These are issues that were not dealt with by the appellate courts, should have been dealt with, so at the end of day even if Ken Lay stayed alive he may have reversed this case. 

FILAN:  Well Joel, I think that gives new meaning to defendant right to the death.  Michael Wynne, Joel Androphy, thanks for joining you us. 

ANDROPHY:  Thank you.

WYNNE:  Thank you.

FILAN:  Coming up, Michael Jackson on tape in court fighting his former business partner who says Jackson owes him millions.  We‘ve got Jackson‘s deposition and his desperate phone messages played for the jurors.

And three Coke employees under arrest for trying to sell company secrets to arch rival Pepsi. 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again.  Our search today is in Oregon.

Police are looking for Jason Reinhardt.  He‘s 37, five-foot-nine, weighs 210 pounds.  He was convicted of sexual abuse and he has not registered his address with the state.  If you have any information on his whereabouts, please call the Oregon State Police at 503-378-3720.  We‘ll be right back.


FILAN:  Coming up, Michael Jackson back in a courtroom, sort of.  The details after the headlines.


FILAN:  Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop” is back in court and this time it is a former business partner, Marc Schaffel, who is suing him saying Jacko owes him almost $4 million.  Jurors in the civil trial are hearing this singer‘s desperate messages to Schaffel where he sounds like he is begging for help. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Marc, it‘s Michael.  Let‘s break all time records, Marc.  I want to make it big so badly.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart and Marc, please, please, please, never let me down.  I really like you.  I love you.  I have been betrayed so much by people and I want us to really, really be friends.


FILAN:  Jackson won‘t be making an appearance in court this time.  Instead jurors will be just seeing his videotaped deposition.  Joining me now with the scoop is “Inside Edition” correspondent Jim Moret.  Jim, it‘s always fun to see you. 


FILAN:  What is this case all about?

MORET:  Well this case and you have to keep in mind this is not a criminal trial.  This is a civil matter and it‘s basically a breach of contract lawsuit.  Marc Schaffel, who worked for a short time with Michael Jackson says that he is owed millions of dollars both for loans that he did to Michael Jackson allegedly and also for work done on two FOX specials.  Michael Jackson, meanwhile, has counter sued claiming fraud, deception, self dealing, claiming that he is actually owed money by Marc Schaffel.  So if you listen to the Jackson camp this is basically an accounting matter, simple as that. 

But clearly these taped depositions add a different element to it because any time you see Michael Jackson there‘s something about him that‘s magnetic.  You have to listen to everything he says.  And frankly the phone messages seem to be in a different character.  They, as you indicated just a second ago, they seem to be almost pleading with Marc Schaffel.  That particular segment you played was relating to a video that Michael Jackson was originally planning after 9/11 called “What More Could I Give” and later they decided since they kind of missed that deadline they would use it for the Iraqi war and now it‘s kind of been transformed into a Hurricane Katrina relief effort.  But the question is will that video ever happen.  Meanwhile, Marc Schaffel says Michael Jackson, as you said, owes him $3.8 million.

FILAN:  Take a listen to this sound bite.  This is Michael Jackson talking about Marlon Brando.  Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Marlon Brandon has been pushing and he is a wonderful man.  He is a god.  We have to get this done.  He wanted it done before Christmas.  He just wanted to make a big deal.  He wants a lot of money and we would own it together.  We will form our own company.  He really wants it.  I mean I think I feel that he is not going to be living too much longer.  That‘s what it is, I think.  Please, Marc, get this done.  I need that money for the house.


FILAN:  So what is the story with this and how does this fit into the suit? 

MORET:  Michael Jackson idolized Marlon Brando and he wanted for a time to do either a TV special, a film or a series of DVDs.  And the deal never really came to fruition.  You heard that Marlon Brando wanted a certain amount of money.  And Michael Jackson would look to Marc Schaffel, as he would to many of his business advisors, to set up the deal, to get financing.  Michael Jackson, as you know from his music, he is very creative and he‘s a musical genius, but he would often turn to others to arrange financial dealings.  In some of his deposition, he claims not to even know what was going on, although he‘s very astute and very sharp businessman and that‘s really what that particular sound bite is about. 

FILAN:  How come he doesn‘t have to be in court for this, Jim, and where is he?

MORET:  Well he—it is a civil trial and you really can‘t force him.  He‘s been in Bahrain and now according to Brian Oxman, the Michael Jackson family attorney, he is currently in Ireland and possibly going to set up a residence there.  But he doesn‘t have to come in.  There is a deposition and portions of that deposition are being heard by the jurors here.  Again, this is not a criminal case.  It‘s a civil case.

FILAN:  And isn‘t Michael Jackson‘s camp saying hey, Marc Schaffel, you are a porn producer yourself.  I think they call him a gay porn producer.  And Marc Schaffel is saying hey, bring it up in court.  Bring it on.  You open that door and you are going to be sorry.  What is that little beef about? 

MORET:  Well and that‘s something that really has nothing to do with the case and yet everything to do with the case.  Marc Schaffel was prior to his dealings with Michael Jackson an adult entertainment producer.  Porn producer, if you will, adult entertainment, depends on—it‘s really a matter of semantics. 

What Marc Schaffel‘s attorney said in no uncertain terms as recently as last night, he said if you bring this up to besmirch his character then Marc Schaffel is going to go on the stand and say things about Michael Jackson that you don‘t want to hear.  And even the attorneys agree, none of that has anything to do with this case, but it does add a salacious element to this case and perhaps that‘s why some people are paying attention to it.

FILAN:  What in the world could be left to hear about Michael Jackson that we have not already heard? 

MORET:  I—you know what, one can only imagine.  Clearly, you can make any allegations you want.  And when Michael Jackson is not here to talk in person, it‘s really—it puts him in a very tough position.  He chooses not to be here, but any allegations that would be made with respect to his character frankly have nothing to do with this case.  It‘s a breach of contract case.

FILAN:  And Jim, lastly, there is this other floating element that may or may not ever get in, but they are talking about a $300,000 payout to a family in South America that Marc Schaffel got on a plane and actually handed the money, maybe because it had something to do with misconduct between Michael Jackson and another boy.  The judge has said that can‘t be specifically alluded to but people are still talking about it in the context of this case.  Fill us in. 

MORET:  The only thing that we can really say with certainly is that Marc Schaffel apparently got on a plane and went to Brazil and made a $300,000 payment, apparently on behalf of Michael Jackson.  But as to the rumor surrounding it, you know, yes, some people are questioning whether it‘s to a family.  There is no indication that that‘s what happened.  It is simply that Marc Schaffel was apparently working as an agent for Michael Jackson...

FILAN:  Right.

MORET:  ... made a payment.  We don‘t know what it is for. 

FILAN:  Right.

MORET:  And perhaps because we don‘t know what it is for that makes it even more interesting. 

FILAN:  Well he‘s the “King of Pop”, but you‘re the king of all things Jackson.  Thanks for joining us. 

MORET:  Thanks, Susan.

FILAN:  Coming up, remember the soda wars, Coke versus Pepsi?  Well they are back.  And this time it is not just a taste test.  This time the two are heading to court thanks to a Coca-Cola employee who tried to leak secrets to the competition and Pepsi ratted them out.

And a lot of you are wondering when Scott Peterson is going to find love on death row, but meanwhile wedding bells are ringing for his former mistress Amber Frey.  We‘ll have all the details.

Your e-mails send them to  Remember to include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.


FILAN:  Coming up, Pepsi and Coke battle it out every day but now they are working together to put a Coke employee behind bars because they say she tried to sell Coca-Cola secrets to Pepsi.  We‘ll explain.


FILAN:  The Coca-Cola Company found an unusual ally recently in its chief rival, Pepsi.  Officials at Pepsi received a letter from someone in May who claimed to have confidential insider information with Coca-Cola‘s secret recipe and a sample of their new drink.


DAVID NAHMIAS, U.S. ATTORNEY:  To PepsiCo‘s great credit, as soon as they were solicited to buy these secrets, they advised their competitor, Coca-Cola Company, that there was a crime apparently in the works.  Coca-Cola, to its credit, immediately went to the FBI to alert them and the FBI jumped right on it and began an undercover investigation. 


FILAN:  Yesterday the FBI arrested three people, including Joya Williams, an administrative assistant to the Coca-Cola global brand director, a senior manager.  And they are charged with wire fraud and unlawfully stealing and selling Coke trade secrets.  They appeared in court today. 

Joining me now is Andrew Ward, Atlanta correspondent for the “Financial Times”.  Thanks for joining us Andrew. 


FILAN:  How did the FBI get these three? 

WARD:  Well it all started in early May when a character called Ibrahim Dimson, a New Yorker, a 30-year-old New Yorker sent this letter to PepsiCo‘s headquarters in New York State offering these confidential trade secrets about Coca-Cola.  And now it is not been heard of for companies to accept offers like this, but PepsiCo, to its credit, immediately informed Coca-Cola who in turn informed the FBI, which was quick to launch a sting operation to try and catch the culprits.

FILAN:  How did they do that, Andrew?  How did they launch their sting operation?

WARD:  Very simple tactics.  This was a very straightforward investigation it seems.  An undercover FBI agent posed as a go-between for PepsiCo.  First of all, called the telephone number that had been included in the original letter to Pepsi and eventually agreed to meet at Atlanta‘s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, and brokered a deal that was first $30,000 stuffed in notes into apparently a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) cookie box with a promise of $40,000 later.  And as this sting developed the offer went up to $1.5 million.  And that deal was supposed to be completed this Wednesday.  Instead when the alleged conspirators turned up they found FBI agents waiting to arrest them.

FILAN:  Andrew, this is straight from one of the e-mails of one of the alleged co-conspirators. 

It says I have information that‘s all classified and extremely confidential that only a handful of the top execs at my company have seen.  I can even provide actual products and packaging of certain products that no eye has seen outside of maybe five top execs.

How much money were they looking for to sell these secrets?

WARD:  Well I mean the FBI obviously floated the idea of 1.5 million and the alleged conspirators themselves never went that far.  They were talking in tens of thousands.  But what‘s without question here is that this sort of confidential material is of great commercial value, not only to Coca-Cola but to its competitors. 

Remember that Coke has made such a big deal over 120 years of keeping its original secret formula, the original Coca-Cola recipe, locked in a bank vault in Atlanta.  And so that demonstrates just how important these trade secrets are to the company.  And this involved apparently new drinks in development and the security surrounding them apparently is a bit more lax.  The company has now pledged to review security and I am sure that it will be tightened. 

FILAN:  Tell us about the surveillance tape that have of Joya.  What was she caught in the act doing on tape?

WARD:  Well I think FBI worked in conjunction with the Coca-Cola security folk who used their own internal surveillance to catch Ms.  Williams rummaging through corporate files and actually pouring a sample of a new Coca-Cola drink in development into a container, which was then eventually provided to the undercover agent in the meeting at the airport. 

FILAN:  And how much time are these three facing? 

WARD:  Well I think that‘s unclear at the moment.  There was the initial hearing today.  The two men involved were remanded in custody.  Ms.  Williams was released on bail.  There‘s a further hearing next week, but this is clearly going to be arguably the most high profile corporate espionage case to have come to court for a number of years and I suspect that the sentences awaiting them, if they‘re found guilty, are potentially quite lengthy. 

FILAN:  I suspect you are right.  Well I‘ve got to give Pepsi credit on this one.  Andrew Ward, thanks so much for joining us. 

WARD:  It‘s a pleasure.

FILAN:  Coming up, Scott Peterson‘s former mistress is now a married woman.  Details after the break. 

And later, Mary Winkler tells police she just snapped and shot her preacher husband apparently after arguing about money.  Some of you writing in saying it‘s possible she just snapped.  Oh, please!

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again.  This week we‘re in Oregon. 

Police need your help finding Kevin Luck.  He‘s 39 years old, five-foot-eleven.  He weighs 180 pounds.  He was convicted of sexual abuse, hasn‘t registered his address with the state.  If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please call the Oregon State Police, 503-378-3720.  We‘ll be right back.



AMBER FREY:  How was your New Year‘s? 

SCOTT PETERSON:  It‘s good.  I‘m just—everyone is in the bar now so I came out in an alley, a quiet alley.  Isn‘t that nice?

FREY:  Yes, it is.  I can hear you.


FREY:  Very good. 

PETERSON:  It‘s pretty awesome.  Fireworks there at the Eiffel Tower. 

A mass of people playing American pop songs.  


FILAN:  From Scott Peterson‘s mistress to blushing bride.  Amber Frey got married yesterday in California.  “People” magazine was the first to break the story and Larry Sutton, senior editor of the magazine, joins us now. 

Hey, Larry. 


FILAN:  What can you tell us about Amber Frey‘s new husband?

SUTTON:  Well I‘ll tell you things happen quickly in the world of Amber Frey.  She moved to Fresno, California, around January of this year, with the kids, as any mother would be doing, out strolling on the sidewalk and she bumped into a neighbor, a nice fellow who happens to be a correction guard, a prison officer.  Things—they hit it off and here we are, about six, seven months later and there was a wedding last night in Lake Tahoe and Amber Frey is now a married woman.

FILAN:  What kind of a wedding did they have? 

SUTTON:  It was a beachfront ceremony.  From all accounts, it sounds like a very lovely occasion.  They had just like a family, friends, wasn‘t really extraordinarily large ceremony, but they wanted to have it at sunset on the beach, and from—or people who were out there, they said things looked lovely.  The weather was great and it was just a beautiful ceremony. 

FILAN:  Where are they going to live now? 

SUTTON:  Well they‘re in the Fresno area still.  I don‘t know if they‘re going to still stay in Amber‘s new home or if they‘re going to look for something a little larger, but they will stay in Fresno. 

FILAN:  And was her child at the wedding? 

SUTTON:  That I don‘t know for sure.  I‘m not 100 percent sure about that.

FILAN:  But obviously the child is going to live with Amber and her new husband?

SUTTON:  Yes.  It‘s—from what we know from talking to Amber‘s father, her kids and he has kids too, as well, get along well, though they seem to be making plans for one big happy family.  So yes, I believe that they‘ll all be together.

FILAN:  So it was a short engagement, wasn‘t it?

SUTTON:  Well, it depends what you mean by short.  Some people can fall in love in minutes, right?  So this was January they met, July they got married.  Why wait?

FILAN:  Boy, she had such a tragic introduction to all of our lives when we first met this sobbing young woman and then she became really the hero of the Peterson trial.  Do you think she‘s found happiness and love at last? 

SUTTON:  I do believe that from everything we know and again, we‘re basing a lot of this on—she was a little busy yesterday because she was busy getting married, but we did speak with her father and her father said that yes, this guy seems truly in love with her.  She seems in love with him and he said she‘s doing very, very well, so I do think she‘s happy now.  Yes.

FILAN:  It‘s kind of an irony that she‘s marrying a correction guard, the same correction guards that are guarding Scott Peterson.

SUTTON:  I suppose, but of course, he works in a different prison. 

He‘s not working there with Scott, but yes, it is a little ironic.

FILAN:  Thank you for joining us, Larry Sutton. 

Coming up, many of you writing in saying our coverage of Ken Lay‘s death was mean spirited.  Your e-mails up next.


FILAN:  Time now for “Your Rebuttal”.  A few of you were offended by our coverage of the death of Kenneth Lay, the former Enron CEO awaiting sentencing for his part in the scandal that brought Enron to ruins.

Linda Shannon, “I can‘t believe you.  I have no love for Kenneth Lay, but what a disgrace.  Do you have any heart?  The man is dead.  If it was your father, husband, grandfather, I don‘t care who he is or what he did, would you like such a disgraceful diatribe?  Your so-called guests ought to be ashamed.”

And Lew Waldman from Los Angeles, California, “Why don‘t you suggest using Lay‘s dead body as a pinata?  He‘s dead.  Get over it.  There‘s not much you can do when you‘re dead, but one thing Lay is doing is not listening to you.”  Wow.  Talk about insensitive.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)  

And many of you weighed in on Mary Winkler, the Tennessee woman who confessed to killing her preacher husband.  Her lawyers say she snapped during a domestic dispute over finances, namely a Nigerian check scam. 

Susan Quinn from Nashville, Tennessee, “Mary Winkler is a victim of a scam.  Isn‘t that redundant?  That‘s no defense for murder.  She‘s cold-hearted and calculating.”

Irene from Newport News, Virginia, “I‘m here to tell you that there is such a thing called snapping.  It can happen.  Unless you have experienced someone who criticizes you on everything you do, how you look, how you talk, you feel like nothing you do is right.  You begin to feel like you‘re drowning.  Then something will trigger your hurt that you‘ve been carrying forever and bam, you lose it momentarily.  Mary could have taken different measures like me.  I‘m moving out this month.  But unless you‘ve been through something of this nature you have no idea.”

Hey, I do know.  I understand battered woman syndrome, but from what I‘ve heard about check kiting and nit picking a really critical spouse, that doesn‘t sound like battered woman syndrome to me. 

Send your e-mails to the abramsreport—one word --  We‘ll go through them and read them at the end of the show.

That does it for us.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Bye-bye.



Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.