Jackson's Neverland Closed to Workers
On Thursday, Jackson was fined $69,000 – $1,000 for each of his Neverland employees – for allowing the worker's comp to lapse. Those fines come on top $100,000 earlier in the week for nonpayment of wages to Neverland employees since December 2005. Jackson reportedly owes some $306,000 in back wages.
California state employees went to the ranch to present the temporary closing order but were stopped at the gate, Department of Industrial Relations spokesman Dean Fryer told Reuters.
The order bars Jackson from employing anyone at the ranch until the insurance problems are corrected.
"So it looks like this would mean for Neverland Valley Ranch that they would be closed down," Fryer said.
The closure of the 2,600-acre ranch presents a special problem for the animals there, which has included elephants, giraffes, snakes, orangutans, tigers and a crocodile, the Associated Press reports. Fryer said local animal-welfare agencies had been notified of the situation.
Ranch operators have five days to appeal the order and fine, but if workers violate the order by returning to work, the state may seek criminal charges.
Meanwhile, a close family associate tells PEOPLE that Jackson is staying in London, where he has been for several weeks. Since he was cleared of child molestation charges last June, he had been living in the Middle East nation of Bahrain.
Jackson's official spokeswoman, Raymone Bain, has not yet commented on the latest developments.