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Pellicano Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison; Read Anita Busch’s Sentencing Statement, Including Her Commentary on the Los Angeles Times
Anthony Pellicano was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison today — just one year less than the government had asked for.
Anita Busch read a statement to Pellicano during the sentencing. Although portions of her statement have been quoted in a couple of stories, some of the quotations have been inaccurate, and none of them has been complete. Below is Busch’s complete statement, which she has confirmed to me is exactly how she said it in court.
I was touched by how harrowing the experience was for her, and how little support she received from people at the L.A. Times, many of whom treated her very real nightmare as a joke. The most moving moment to me was reading Busch describe how agonizing it was just to start her car . . . after receiving credible threats that her car would be blown up: “[A]fter a night of nightmares, I would close my eyes and just scream really loud as I turned the key to the ignition. And when I didn’t blow up, I’d wipe my eyes and go onto work at the L.A. Times and face the snickers from the disbelievers.”
Busch also told Pellicano: “The day you were arrested, that’s when the cover-up began at my newspaper.” At that point, Pellicano started talking with his lawyers, ignoring her. Busch paused and waited until they stopped talking.
Until Pellicano paid attention.
Hearing that story, my reaction was: he wasn’t in control. She was.
That’s a great story.
Ms. Busch’s statement follows:
I want to thank Judge Fischer for her patience and wisdom during this trial and thank you to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Mr. Pellicano, after you and your employers relentlessly attacked all of us and got caught after years of doing this to others, you and your lawyers just kept attacking. You attacked the FBI, the search warrant, a potential witness, the veracity of your victims, launched personal attacks on the lead FBI agent on the case and U.S. Attorney, went after the jury and then the verdict itself.
And you did most all of it through the Los Angeles Times where I unfortunately found out while working there that you had a trusted relationship with the lawyer advising me and one of the reporters that they had covering this criminal case.
In the sentencing memorandum you talk about how your life is ruined. Yes, well, YOU made that choice. None of your victims had a choice. You could have helped put these sociopaths with money behind bars, but to this day, you show contempt for this court and the law.
You have yet to take responsibility for your actions.
It was revealed only two weeks ago that an FBI agent named Mark Rossini pleaded guilty to illegally obtaining documents that were then used by your lawyer.
So every day you prove that you ran a criminal conspiracy and a criminal enterprise.
Your co-conspirator Mr. Kachikian aided and abetted you so that my computer was hacked into and 18 years of my musical compositions – which I considered my life’s work – were destroyed.
When Mr. Turner and other co-conspirators at the phone company helped you tap my phones, you not only violated my privacy and that of my family and friends, but you violated the privacy of a journalist AND her sources, undermining the very fundamentals of my profession. This attack was also on journalism and a newspaper’s ability to gather the news.
By carrying out these crimes, you not only hurt me, you hurt my elderly parents, my brothers and sisters and my friends.
After these threats, I was afraid to come and go from my house. I was afraid to sit in my car for even a moment out in the street for fear that a car would speed up on me again, block me in and this time I WOULD be killed. And that was a Catch-22 because I was ALSO petrified to turn over the engine of my car for fear that it would blow up.
So, I would sit there and cry and pray and beg, “Please God, I want to live.”
Or some days, after a night of nightmares, I would close my eyes and just scream really loud as I turned the key to the ignition. And when I didn’t blow up, I’d wipe my eyes and go onto work at the L.A. Times and face the snickers from the disbelievers.
You and your employers not only used fear and intimidation, but you made sure people – your targets – were smeared in the press. And you and your clients used any means at your disposal to destroy people’s employment. And you guys did it many times over many years. When it was my turn how very convenient it was for you that you already had long established relationships inside my employer.
The day after the first threat, the lawyer at the L.A. Times, Karlene Goller, wanted YOU on board to help because as she said, “He’s done work for us in the past and he’s done well by us.” The editor told her no, but she did it anyway. Without my knowledge or the knowledge of law enforcement, she had reporter Chuck Philips call you about my case. Philips had a longtime relationship with you as a news source and had worked for years alongside Karlene’s husband.
I was new to the paper, but you weren’t. And you USED the relationships you had there against me. You made sure my newspaper didn’t believe me so behind the scenes you could ruin my employment just like you and your clients did to other victims.
The day you were arrested, that’s when the cover-up began at my newspaper. To this day their own reporters, editors and readers don’t know the truth. And while you and your lawyers cried crocodile tears about media leaks, Philips – a reporter you helped for years – wrote story after story against the government’s case. Information FED to him by your defense team. And because the men whose job it was to put an end to your criminal activity were now your targets – Dan Saunders and Stan Ornellas – your pal Philips wrote stories smearing their integrity.
And, of course, those stories were then approved by the same newspaper lawyer who looked to you for help. And this is just one example of how you and your clients used the media as a weapon.
Your convicted co-conspirator, Mr. Kachikian, even worked for the L.A. Times.
You reached inside the phone company, the LAPD, the Beverly Hills Police Department, the FBI … AND this city’s largest newspaper.
So, I was on my own. And I was scared. I thought it was just a matter of time before I was going to be killed. I was scared to have any family or friends around me because I was afraid that they themselves might get hurt. And I struggled. I struggled hard to work as a journalist while battling constant fear … Journalism was something I loved and what I lived for. But it became impossible for me to continue on as a journalist. My sources were afraid to talk to me on the phone. It wasn’t long before everything was gone.
I no longer had my career. I no longer had my peace of mind. My income was dwindling. My life savings was disappearing. My health went downhill. I didn’t even have my music. And I no longer had passion or faith in anything.
It was death by a thousand cuts … and the cuts were deep and hard. I didn’t deserve it.
I remember sitting alone one night, trying to think of something – anything – good that had come out of this. I realized that the only hope I had left was in a dogged, and thank God ethical, FBI agent named Stan Ornellas who I knew was out there every day working to try to put an end to this kind of domestic terrorism. Which is what it was.
I am thankful beyond words to these men and women who worked this case because they kept what happened to me from happening to anyone else.
Now, Mr. Pellicano, you have always spoken about a sense of honor. I understand. You know I know many of your former clients. Most of the ones I knew were never your friends and they were certainly never your family.
These people don’t care about the kind of healthcare you get on the inside, the lousy razors that nick your face, the sandpaper for toilet paper, the mystery meat and candy bars from the vending machine.
They don’t care that you won’t be there to hold your own mother’s hand when she gets sick or when she passes away.
Where is the honor in that?
You won’t be there because of Michael Ovitz.
Your sense of honor is not wrong, Mr. Pellicano. It is misplaced.
To you and your wealthy clients, this was about winning – destroying our lives – at any cost. Well, look at the cost … here in the courtroom today … look into the faces of the ones you love.
You threw away your role as son to your mother and father to your children.
Sometimes money costs too much.
For what you have done to all of us and to your own flesh and blood, all I can say is that I fear for your soul when I think that God is just.
Thank you, your honor.
P.S. The initial L.A. Times story on the sentencing doesn’t report any of Busch’s attacks on the newspaper. It will be interesting to see whether the paper ever mentions it.
It is, after all, news.
UPDATE: The story has now been rewritten, in classic L.A. Times style: at the same Web address, wiping out the old version entirely, without any notification to the reader. (I have saved the previous version.) Here’s what the latest version of the story says about Busch’s sentencing statement:
Pellicano’s troubles began in 2002, when a reporter who wrote negative articles about former Hollywood super agent Michael Ovitz went to authorities after she found a dead fish, a rose and a note saying “Stop” inside the smashed windshield of her car.
The reporter, Anita Busch, told the judge Monday that Pellicano’s intimidation and wiretapping were like “death by a thousand cuts.”
Yes, and Busch believes the L.A. Times shared some culpability for at least part of the misery she endured. The L.A. Times doesn’t tell you that.
To learn that, you had to come here.
UPDATE x2: The L.A. Times responds to Busch here.
[Guest post by DRJ]
StrategyPage notes that violence in Mexico is now worse than in Iraq. I agree with Glenn Reynolds that this is bad news for Mexico and its neighbors. Sadly, it’s also bad news for its neighbor’s anti-kidnapping experts, one of whom has been abducted in Mexico:
“A U.S. anti-kidnapping expert was abducted by gunmen in northern Mexico last week, a sign of just how bold this nation’s kidnapping gangs have become.
U.S. security consultant Felix Batista was in Saltillo in Coahuila state to offer advice on how to confront abductions for ransom when he was snatched by unknown assailants on Dec. 10, said Charlie LeBlanc, the president of the Houston, Texas-based security firm ASI Global LLC., where Batista is a consultant.
LeBlanc said Batista had his own security business and that “he was in Mexico for business that wasn’t associated with our company.” Batista’s work involved crisis management consulting, LeBlanc said. “Part of that could be or may involve negotiations with kidnappers.” ASI Global’s Web site advertises “kidnap and ransom response” and says the company has worked for major insurance companies.”
You know things are bad when real life starts imitating the movies:
“Kidnapping has become a rising problem in Mexico, but attacks on U.S. anti-crime consultants have largely been the stuff of movies. The seizure seems to echo the plot of a 2004 movie, “Man on Fire,” in which Denzel Washington played a U.S. security consultant who takes on Mexican kidnappers and is abducted himself.
A series of high-profile kidnappings in which the victims were later found dead has sparked outrage in Mexico. In the past year, the bodies of daughter of the country’s former sports commissioner and the son of a prominent businessman have been found.”
Out-of-control kidnapping is one reason some Mexican leaders now support reinstatement of the death penalty where a hostage is killed.
UPDATE — The violence continues: Four separate and possibly coordinated attacks killed 4 police officers in Juarez Sunday night. Many more officers have been intimated into quitting:
“Dozens of Ciudad Juárez police have been killed this year in attacks blamed on drug gangs trying to consolidate territory. Many officers have quit out of fear for their lives, often after their names have appeared on hit lists left in public.
Another such list naming 26 officers was found early Monday at a dog racing track, Torres said. It was found above the bodies of four civilian men gunned down at the track – one of them wearing a Santa Claus hat. A fifth man who survived was left bound and gagged next to the bodies.”
This report says more than 5,300 people have been killed in Mexico this year, more than twice as many as last year.
[Guest post by DRJ]
In response to a projected $12.5B budget shortfall, New York Governor David Paterson may propose a budget that’s heartless by Democratic standards:
“New taxes, deep cuts to education and health care, and a restructuring of the state’s economic development programs will be hallmarks of Gov. David Paterson’s first budget plan to be released in two days, according to interviews of people briefed on components.
The health industry will be particularly upset, although Paterson’s cuts will raise blood pressure throughout. He will call for about $3.53 billion in health care cuts, not including federal share of matching Medicaid dollars, which could be another $2 billion in cuts.
The biggest hits will be to insurance companies, which will be asked to come up with about $855 million in extra assessments. Those amount to more taxes on health insurance plans, increased sales tax on hospital discharges and more shifting of general fund costs to the Insurance Department so that insurance companies pay for programs such as Timothy’s Law, the mandated coverage of mental health treatments.
Bad news for people who need insurance, get sick or want an education in New York, as well as for those who buy sodas, license plates, clothing and gasoline. The report states taxes on these items will go up, including a $404M obesity tax on non-diet sodas.
[Guest post by DRJ]
The text of Count One and Count Two, applicable statutes, and a preliminary introduction to the case law are set forth below. For a starting point on the facts, read the Affidavit attached to the Criminal Complaint or Jim Lindgren’s helpful timeline posted at The Volokh Conspiracy.
Why did Fitz seemingly rush forward with the Blago criminal complaint? The Wall Street Journal‘s Washington Wire says that the Chicago Tribune may have blown Fitz’s chance to catch Obama’s seat being sold on tape:
Members of Fitzgerald’s team are livid the scheme didn’t advance, at least for a little longer, according to some people close to Fitzgerald’s office. Why? Because had the plot unfolded, they might have had an opportunity most feds can only dream of: A chance to catch the sale of a Senate seat on tape, including the sellers and the buyers.
The precise timing of Tuesday’s dramatic, pre-dawn arrest was not dictated by Fitzgerald, nor was it dictated by the pace of Blagojevich’s alleged “crime spree.” It was dictated by the Chicago Tribune, according to people close to the investigation and a careful reading of the FBI’s affidavit in the case.
. . . .
At Fitzgerald’s request, the paper had been holding back a story since October detailing how a confidante of Blagojevich was cooperating with his office. . . . But editors decided to publish the story on Friday, Dec. 5, ending the Tribune’s own cooperation deal with the prosecutor.
As a result, the piece explains, Blago cancelled an in-person meeting that he had set up to get “something tangible” in return for delivering the seat to Candidate No. 5.
Once again, the press stomps all over the government’s efforts to effectively rein in the bad guys.
Enjoy bankruptcy, gents.
Anthony Pellicano will be sentenced today.
Victims of former Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano say they have never been able to free themselves from the emotional and financial fallout caused by crimes he committed while wiretapping the rich and famous.
A former reporter says she has nightmares about being hunted and raped. A mother says her daughter is mocked by other kids and their parents. An actress who once appeared in a popular television series says she has found little work since.
The AP says that the Government is asking for nearly 16 years for Pellicano. His lawyers are asking for almost no additional time: 70 months with credit for time served since November 2003 — nearly 61 months ago. Read their memorandum here.
Quite remarkably, the Pellicano defense is invoking Mark Rossini’s light sentence. (He’s the boyfriend of Linda Fiorentino that I told you about here, who has pled guilty to illegally accessing documents that were later used in Pellicano’s defense.) Here’s what Pellicano’s brief says about Rossini:
As to the charges relating to access of police data bases, here too the government’s position seems extreme. For instance, on December 8, 2008, the government announced a guilty plea and plea agreement for Mark T. Rossini, a former Supervisory Special Agent of the FBI who “made over 40 searches of the FBI’s Automated Case Support System (ACS) which contains confidential, law-enforcement sensitive information that relates to historic and on-going criminal investigations initiated by, and supported by, the FBI.” The plea agreement for Mr. Rossini was for five misdemeanors and, as described by the Department of Justice, the likely sentence was from zero to six months.
(Emphasis in original.)
Given that Rossini is yet another cog in Pellicano’s conspiracy to misuse law enforcement, this argument takes a real set of [insert your favorite synonym for testicles here].
Stay tuned tonight; I expect to be able to provide some coverage of the sentencing that you won’t find anywhere else. If it turns out as planned, it will be very interesting — and will have a special emphasis on the coverage of the case by the L.A. Times.
UPDATE 12-23-08: When I speak of “Pellicano’s conspiracy to misuse law enforcement” I am clearly speaking of Pellicano and not his lawyers. More here.