SANTA MARIA, Calif. – District Attorney Tom Sneddon was so bent on nailing Michael Jackson for child molestation that he went to Australia to hunt for possible victims after a 1993 abuse probe fizzled, the singer’s lawyer charged Thursday.

“He’s so invested in trying to get Michael Jackson that he’s lost his objectivity,” defense lawyer Tom Mesereau argued in a bid to have the Santa Barbara County prosecutor yanked off Jackson’s current child molestation case.

“Mr. Sneddon admitted he went to Australia with some detectives to try to search for victims!” Mesereau said. “He didn’t find any.”

But Judge Rodney Melville ruled Sneddon will remain on the case.

“I find nothing happened to evidence a disabling conflict (of interest),” the judge said, adding he will make sure Sneddon does not appear “overzealous” in front of the jury during trial.

Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting a 13-year-old recovering cancer patient last year and conspiring to hold the boy and his family hostage at Neverland, his ranch in California. He denies all charges.

Mesereau also revealed that the accuser’s mother collected welfare checks and stashed the money in her then-boyfriend’s bank account while he was making more than $80,000 a year. The mom then married the man, Army Reserve Maj. Jay Jackson, in May.

“This woman has repeatedly emphasized her need for money,” Mesereau said.

And so far, investigators have been unable to find any of the accuser’s DNA in Jackson’s bedroom despite intense forensic testing, Mesereau said. Jackson’s mattress and bedding are among the items being tested.

Prosecutor Ron Zonen countered that the accuser’s “12-year-old brother witnessed two of the acts” of sex abuse Jackson is charged with committing.

Sneddon’s Australian hunt took place sometime after Jackson’s 1993 accuser and his parents accepted a $20 million payoff and refused to testify against the pop star, but before the current case began last year, Mesereau said. The so-called King of Pop has a strong fan base there.

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