Michael Jackson Ordered To Shut Down Neverland Ranch

Singer allegedly failed to pay employees, maintain workers'-compensation insurance.

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 [article id="1504017"]"Michael Jackson Not Guilty On All Charges"[/article]).

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.