At the L.A. Times, Scott Glover has a good story advancing our knowledge of the case of Anthony Pellicano’s Man at the FBI.
As I told you yesterday, an FBI agent dating actress Linda Fiorentino has been charged with illegally accessing FBI computers to provide Pellicano with an FBI report helpful to Pellicano’s case. Pellicano’s lawyers produced the report in court last year and complained that they should have received it from the prosecution as part of pretrial discovery. If the charges are true, the FBI agent, Mark Rossini, obtained the report that was later sent to Pellicano’s defense team.
So reporter Glover asked Pellicano’s attorney whether he knew who had provided the report. And he had a little Perry Mason “gotcha” moment with the attorney when the attorney denied any knowledge of where the report had come from:
Artan, the lawyer who represented Pellicano, said that he was questioned by prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., about how he had obtained the report and that he told them that he didn’t know where it came from.
He said he now assumes that questioning was part of the probe into Rossini.
But according to a transcript of a hearing in March 2007 when U.S. District Court Judge Dale Fischer asked Artan if the document had been sent anonymously, he replied, “No.”
He added, “I would be happy to tell you in camera.”
Asked about the inconsistency, Artan said he was surprised by his response in the transcript.
He said he recalled having some inkling at the time as to who may have sent it but that he did not know then and does not know now who the source was.
The lawyer declined to say who he suspected may have provided the document.
If a document is sent anonymously, and a judge asks if it was sent anonymously, would you answer “no” to the judge? Because you had some inkling who had anonymously sent it?
Sorry, Mr. Artan. You’ll have to do better than that.
Well played, Scott Glover.
Artan may just now be realizing that federal prosecutors know about that transcript too. And they are presumably also familiar with the statute that criminalizes knowing lies “in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the United States.” You’ve heard of that law; it’s the one that was used in the Martha Stewart case.
This is bound to get more interesting as time passes.
UPDATE 12-23-08: This is not an accusation leveled against Mr. Artan; it’s an observation that reportedly inconsistent statements sometimes trigger the interest of federal law enforcement authorities. More here.