Anthony Pellicano: Wikis


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"Pellicano" redirects here. For the detective-fiction writer, see George Pelecanos.

Anthony Pellicano (born March 22, 1944, in Chicago, Illinois) is a former high-profile Los Angeles private investigator who recently served a sentence of three and a half years in federal prison for illegal possession of explosives, firearms and homemade grenades, and who was arrested on February 4, 2006, on unlawful wiretapping and racketeering charges.

On May 15, 2008, after acting as his own lawyer and suffering a nine day jury deliberation, Pellicano was found guilty on 76 of 77 counts related to racketeering, along with four co-defendants.[1] However, a parade of wealthy witnesses admitted they knew about, paid for and listened to wiretaps, but were not charged. They included Alec Gores, a billionaire corporate buyout specialist; Freddy DeMann, a music executive who was once Madonna’s manager; Adam D. Sender, a hedge fund manager and onetime movie investor; and Andrew Stevens, an actor turned movie producer. Summing up, the prosecuting attorney stated that he chose to attack the supply rather than the demand, the way that vice investigators attack pimps and prostitutes rather than johns, because “that’s how you make a dent in it.” The johns in this case were the likes of Bert Fields, Brad Grey, Ron Meyer, Michael Ovitz and Chris Rock, all of whom paid Pellicano for services rendered. “If the government has no plans to go higher than Pellicano, this is a depressingly pedestrian effort that shows a lack of ambition,” commented John C. Coffee [2], a professor at Columbia Law School and an expert on white-collar crime, as quoted in the NY Times story on the verdict. [3]

In a subsequent six-week Federal Court trial, Pellicano was convicted of wiretapping and conspiracy to commit wiretapping.[4] Facing 78 guilty counts,and not being allowed to co-serve his two convictions, Pellicano was sentenced in December 2008 to 15 additional years in prison, and ordered (with two other defendants) to forfeit $2 million.[5]


2006 indictment

On February 6, 2006, Pellicano was indicted on 110 counts in United States District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles alleging crimes of racketeering and conspiracy, wiretapping, witness tampering, identity theft and destruction of evidence. Six other associates were also charged.[6][7] Pellicano was denied bail. Pellicano presently is being held in general population at the Federal Detention Center in Los Angeles. His trial, and that of five other co-defendants, was scheduled to begin on February 27, 2008. The trial date was delayed three times, due to a lengthy discovery process, according to press reports,[6][8] and for the addition of defense counsel.[9]

The indictment alleges, in part, that members of the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments unlawfully accessed confidential records on celebrities and public figures that they turned over to Pellicano.[6][10] Pellicano and associates allegedly tapped actor Sylvester Stallone's telephone and accessed confidential police records on other public figures, including comedians Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon.

The indictment was amended on February 15, 2006, to include two more charges of wiretapping and extortion, at which time prominent entertainment attorney Terry Christensen was also charged. To date, thirteen people have been charged in the pending matter.

On June 7, 2006, the Associated Press reported that Pellicano performed an illegal background check on a law enforcement official who was investigating client and con artist Christophe Rocancourt in a fake passport scheme.[11]

The Associated Press reported August 29, 2008 that a jury convicted Pellicano and Christensen of federal wiretapping conspiracy charges.

Pellicano and Christensen were each convicted 08/29/2008 of conspiracy to commit wiretapping. Pellicano was also convicted of wiretapping and Christensen was also convicted of aiding and abetting a wiretap.

The two were accused of secretly recording phone conversations of Kerkorian's ex-wife, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, in an effort to disprove her claims that the MGM mogul was the father of her daughter.

The 64-year-old defendants each face up to 10 years in federal prison and $500,000 in fines upon sentencing Nov. 17, 2008 by U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer.

On Nov. 12, 2008 the Los Angeles Times reported that Pellicano's sentencing had been postponed until Dec. 15, 2008 [12]

Once known as "P.I. to the stars"

Before his arrest and guilty plea on the explosives charge, Pellicano was known in the mass media as the "PI to the stars" because of his work for many prominent Hollywood celebrities. According to former associate Paul Barresi, Pellicano would purchase tabloid reporters' celebrity gossip before it became public. He then would offer to do damage control for $25,000 or more. "He says these people pursue Pellicano to hire him, when in fact, he pursues them," said Barresi.[13]

As a result of an investigation involving one of his former clients, actor Steven Seagal, FBI agents raided Pellicano's offices on November 21, 2002, searching for evidence that he was involved in a threat against a Los Angeles Times reporter investigating Seagal and Julius Nasso. During the search, agents found two practice grenades modified to function as homemade bombs as well as military-grade C-4 plastic explosives sufficient to take down a passenger jet.[14]

After his arrest in 2002, Pellicano pleaded guilty to illegal possession of dangerous materials and was sentenced to thirty months in federal prison. He was to be released on February 4, 2006 but, on February 3, was transferred to the Federal Detention center in Downtown Los Angeles pending the new indictment on wiretapping and racketeering charges.

Related investigations and celebrity connections

On January 25 2008, the investigative news website "The Enterprise Report:" revealed the story of how the former girlfriend of ex-Hollywood Records executive Robert Pfeifer, a woman named Erin Finn became deeply involved in assisting the FBI and its lead agent on the case Stanley Ornellas in investigating Pellicano and bringing federal charges against him and his close friend Pfeifer. [6]

The new charges are a result of a three-year federal investigation into his suspected illegal use of wiretaps and confidential law enforcement records. On January 11, 2006, Pellicano's girlfriend Sandra Will Carradine, the ex-wife of actor Keith Carradine, and veteran Beverly Hills police officer Craig Stevens pleaded guilty to lying about the former detective's use of wiretaps and other illegal tactics.[15] Vanity Fair magazine reported in 2004 that the FBI has also questioned Warren Beatty and Shandling about the matter.[16]

Pellicano's close friend and former record executive Robert Joseph Pfeifer was arrested on February 3, 2006, and charged with unlawful wiretapping and conspiracy.[6][17]

On April 3, 2006, film director John McTiernan was charged in federal court with lying to the FBI. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, McTiernan was charged with an information, rather than in grand jury indictment, which means he waived his right to an indictment and suggests he may have reached either a prior plea agreement with prosecutors or some sort of cooperating agreement. He was sentenced on September 24, 2007, to four months in prison for lying about his relationship with Pelicano.[18] McTiernan was arraigned and pled guilty on April 17, 2006.

On March 17, 2006, the "Page Six" gossip column in the New York Post reported that actress Nicole Kidman was questioned by the FBI as part of the ongoing Pellicano investigation. Telephone voice recordings of Kidman speaking to Cruise were found when authorities first raided Pellicano's offices in 2002. The tapes were allegedly made in 2001, shortly after Kidman and former husband Tom Cruise announced they were separating. Cruise used lawyer Dennis Wasser to negotiate his separation, and Wasser regularly retained Pellicano's services. Although he has not been charged in the case, Wasser has been told by the FBI he is a "person of interest."[19][20]

Prominent Hollywood attorney Bertram Fields, a long-time client of Pellicano (and lawyer for Tom Cruise), has repeatedly been connected to the ongoing federal wiretapping investigation in the press because of allegations that his celebrity clients have benefited from the former PI's alleged illegal wiretaps directed against members of the media and prominent critics. Carradine and Stevens pleaded guilty to charges they lied about Pellicano's activities against an opponent of one of Fields's clients. Fields has said in statements release by his attorney that he had no knowledge of any potentially illegal activity. Variety reported in 2003 that Stallone was questioned by the FBI when it was revealed the actor's phone may have been illegally tapped by Pellicano, who was working at the time for a client of Fields.[21]

Former Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch had filed a civil lawsuit against Pellicano on May 28, 2004, alleging that he was part of a harassment campaign which included illegal wiretapping and a 2002 death threat.

In 2002, Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch discovered a dead fish with a red rose in its mouth and a sign reading "Stop" on the cracked windshield of her Audi. At the time, she was writing about Steven Seagal and Mike Ovitz, both clients of Pellicano. The trail eventually led to his office, where FBI agents discovered plastic explosives, grenades, pistols and about $200,000 in cash in Pellicano's safe. He pleaded guilty to weapons charges and went to prison.[2]

Kerkorian connection

On August 10, 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that billionaire Kirk Kerkorian's attorneys have been sued by his former wife Lisa Bonder's attorney because of their connection to Pellicano. Bonder's attorney alleges that Kerkorian's lawyers hired Pellicano to wiretap telephone calls illegally between him and Bonder in order to gain a tactical advantage in the Kerkorian divorce proceedings.[22] While working for Kerkorian, Pellicano investigated his friend Steve Bing, testing a strand of used dental floss taken from Bing's trash and proving Bing had fathered Bonder's daughter.

According to an FBI summary, Pellicano was known to play Hollywood clients against each other, at one point asking financier Ron Burkle for a $100,000 to $250,000 shakedown not to be investigated by Michael Ovitz, another Pellicano client.[23] In a twist to the case on April 12, 2007, The New York Times revealed evidence that movie producer Steve Bing, while also being investigated by Pellicano, also paid Pellicano $335,000 between June 2000 and August 2002. Excerpts from audiotapes show Pellicano bragging to Kerkorian's lawyer in April and May 2002 that he was "working for" and "consulting for" Bing in matters related to Elizabeth Hurley and her pregnancy (the paternity of which initially Bing disputed). A lawyer for Bing, Martin Singer, called Pellicano's statement regarding Hurley "an absolute lie." (In 2003, the Daily Mail retracted a story and reportedly paid a "substantial" settlement to Bing after Pellicano's sworn statement that he had "never been engaged by Mr. Bing nor his attorney Mr. Martin Singer to investigate anyone on Mr. Bing’s behalf, including Ms. Hurley."[24])

New York Times controversy

On July 6, 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that New York Times reporter Allison Weiner was barred from the main Los Angeles jail after allegedly misrepresenting herself as an attorney involved in the Pellicano case in order to see the jailed former detective. While Weiner is a member of the California Bar, she visited Pellicano as a reporter and is not involved in his defense. Weiner reportedly used her bar membership card to see Pellicano in order to evade the warden's order that no one could see Pellicano, except for his lawyers or immediate family members.[25] To date, Weiner has written numerous articles about Pellicano.

Earlier Connections

Five-month-old Sabrina Aisenberg disappeared from her parents unlocked home during the night of November 27, 1997, and has never been found. Anthony Pellicano was a wiretap consultant for the government in conection with the 1999 Hillsborough County Florida investigation and federal prosecution of Steven and Marlene Aisenberg for making false statements to law enforcement officials. In 2001, county detectives were found to have lied both in obtaining warrants and as to the content of the conversations recorded under those warrants, and the indictment of the Aisenbergs was dismissed. The US Attorney later admitted that the prosecution was frivolous, vexatious, or in bad faith (in the terminology of the Hyde Amendment, U.S. Public Law 105-119, which added a footnote to 18 U.S.C. § 3006A). In his capacity as an expert, Pellicano claimed to hear those supposed conversations that the opposing former FBI expert and the federal magistrate judge could not hear. [26]

Pellicano is known to have represented Anthony "the Ant" Spilotro, the Chicago mobster charged with monitoring the Las Vegas casino "skim" for the Chicago mob. Gustave Reininger, the co-creator of NBC's acclaimed television drama "Crime Story," was served both a subpoena and a warning from Spilotro through Pellicano.

[27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36]


  1. ^ "Pellicano found guilty of racketeering". Los Angeles Times. 2008-05-16.,0,4434631.story. Retrieved 2008-05-15.  
  2. ^ John C. Coffee bio
  3. ^ Investigator to the Stars Convicted, NY Times issue dated 16 May, 2008
  4. ^ Barnes, Brooks (2008-08-29). "Pellicano and a Lawyer Convicted in Wiretapping". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-15.  
  5. ^ "15 Years for Hollywood Investigator". Associated Press. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2008-12-15.  
  6. ^ a b c d e ERS NEWS. The Enterprise Report
  7. ^
  8. ^ Pellicano's wiretap trial pushed to August - Entertainment News, Business News, Media - Variety
  9. ^ "Judge delays Pellicano trial until '08". Los Angeles Times. 2007-05-22.,1,6315724.story. Retrieved 2007-05-23.  
  10. ^,0,5795984.story?coll=la-home-headlines
  11. ^ hollywood_wiretaps_1
  12. ^,0,5483213.story
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Plot Thickens in the Case of the Tainted Detective - Los Angeles Times
  16. ^ Blum, Howard; Connolly, John (March 2004). The Pellicano Brief. pp. 222.   as based on reproduction at
  17. ^ Krikorian, Greg (2006-02-05). "Music Figure Held in Pellicano Case". Los Angeles Times.,0,5316500.story?coll=la-home-local. Retrieved 2006-09-11.  
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ The Statesman
  20. ^ Showbiz - News - FBI quiz Kidman in wire-tap probe - Digital Spy
  21. ^ Shprintz, Janet (2003-11-18). "Stallone is queried in sleuth case". Variety. Retrieved 2006-10-17.  
  22. ^ "Lawyer Files Suit Over Alleged Wiretapping". Los Angeles Times. 2006-08-10.,1,1738724,print.story?coll=la-utilities-entnews. Retrieved 2006-09-11.  
  23. ^ "Billionaire Reports a Shakedown in Hollywood". New York Times. 2006-04-20. Retrieved 2007-04-12.  
  24. ^ "Hollywood Evidence Raises Questions". New York Times. 2007-04-12. Retrieved 2007-04-12.  
  25. ^ Jail Bars Reporter Who Was Let In to Speak With Pellicano - Los Angeles Times
  26. ^ 358 F3d 1327 United States v. B Aisenberg
  27. ^ Halbfinger, David M. and Allison Hope Weiner (May 21, 2007). In Court Files, Hollywood’s Mr. Fix-It at Work. New York Times
  28. ^ July 24, 2006, The New Yorker, "Hollywood Ending," by Ken Auletta
  29. ^ June 2006 Vanity Fair; "Inside Hollywood's Big Wiretap Scandal," by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly
  30. ^ May 10, 2006, New York Times; "Hollywood Detective Accused of Ordering 'Hit' on Witness," by David M. Halbfinger
  31. ^ April 6, 2006, New York Times; "Complex Maneuvering Over Evidence in Hollywood Wiretapping Scandal," by David M. Halbfinger and Allison Hope Weiner
  32. ^ February 15, 2006, Los Angeles Times; "Entertainment Lawyer Indicted in Pellicano Probe," by Greg Krikorian and Andrew Blankstein
  33. ^ February 7, 2006, Los Angeles Times; "Lawyer to Celebrities Is Subject of Inquiry," by Robert W. Welkos
  34. ^ February 6, 2006, Los Angeles Times; "Pellicano and Six Others Are Indicted," by Greg Krikorian and Andrew Blankstein
  35. ^ March 2004 Vanity Fair; "The Pellicano Brief," by Howard Blum and John Connolly
  36. ^ March 2003 Esquire; "For Twenty Years, Anthony Pellicano Was Hollywood's Fixer," by Kim Masters

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