Authorities ordered Michael Jackson to shut down his Neverland Valley Ranch on Thursday (March 9), alleging he failed to pay his employees and maintain workers’-compensation insurance, Reuters reports.
The state’s Department of Industrial Relations also fined Jackson $69,000 ($1,000 per employee) for letting his insurance policy lapse two months ago. The 2,800-acre central California ranch must remain closed until back wages are paid and insurance issues are taken care of, a spokesperson for the department told Reuters.
Just a few days ago Jackson was cited for allegedly failing to pay at least 30 employees since December and now must not only cough up $306,000 in back wages but also pay a $100,000 fine.
Jackson was not at the ranch when a state agent delivered the shut-down order, according to Reuters, and is assumed to be in Bahrain, where he has been spending much of his time since being cleared of child-molestation charges last summer (see “Michael Jackson Not Guilty On All Charges” ).
State officials have arranged with local authorities for the care of the animals in Neverland’s zoo.
The spokesperson said the Department of Industrial Relations was tipped off when a Neverland worker made an unpaid-wage claim and reported that a fellow employee had been injured there and was hesitant to file a claim because of Jackson’s lapsed insurance.