Patterico's Pontifications

12/23/2008

Patterico Gets a Letter from Pellicano’s Lawyer

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:19 am



I came home last night to one of those lawyer-letters demanding that I retract certain statements on my blog. The letter was from Anthony Pellicano’s lawyer Michael Artan — delivered, in classic Pellicano style, by a messenger, to my home.

In several recent posts, I noted that Artan had reportedly made inconsistent statements about whether he knew who had given him an FBI report that was illegally obtained by FBI agent Mark Rossini. Far from clearing up the reported inconsistency, Artan’s letter to me only generates further questions.

In the letter, Artan specifically denies that he received an FBI report from Linda Fiorentino, saying: “Any suggestion that I received any FBI Report from Ms. Fiorentino is entirely false.” Artan thus seems to suggest that he knows who gave him the FBI report. Yet, according to a recent L.A. Times article, Artan says “he did not know then and does not know now who the source was” for the document — and that when questioned by government prosecutors about the provenance of the report, “he told them that he didn’t know where it came from.”

If he doesn’t know where he got it, then how does he know that he didn’t get it from Fiorentino?

I can’t retract things that I didn’t say to begin with — but I can be clear about what I did and didn’t say. And Mr. Artan’s letter accuses me of saying all sorts of things that I never said:

Here are the allegedly offending blog entries:

Mr. Artan says I have falsely accused him of making false statements in violation of the law, and of acting in concert with Linda Fiorentino and/or Mark Rossini. In fact, I have made no such accusations, and I’m not making them now.

What I have said is that there are news reports saying that Artan has made some puzzlingly inconsistent statements regarding where he obtained an FBI report — one that had been illegally accessed by an FBI agent. In making this observation, I relied on published news reports. In particular, according to a December 5, 2008 article by Scott Glover of the L.A. Times, Mr. Artan produced an FBI report in court, and told a judge that it had not been sent to him anonymously. Yet, according to the article, he told reporter Scott Glover that he didn’t know where it came from . . . and that he had told government prosecutors that he didn’t know where it came 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.

(Emphasis is mine.)

According to the quoted L.A. Times article, there is an “inconsistency” between what Mr. Artan told a judge and what he told government prosecutors. If the L.A. Times noticed this inconsistency, I’m guessing that the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office noticed it too. If The Times found it interesting enough to report, then I’m guessing federal law enforcement officials are also interested. (In other words, they may be considering whether an investigation is warranted.) It has been my observation that federal law enforcement tends to get interested when a person tells them one thing, and says something different to someone else — as the L.A. Times reported Artan had done.

That’s the point I was making in my December 4, 2008 post. Similarly, in my December 9, 2008 post, I argued that there was no reporting on the issue of whether the government was investigating whether Artan had made false statements to prosecutors.

That doesn’t mean that Mr. Artan lied to prosecutors or broke the law. I am not making that claim, and never have. After all, there are certainly other possible explanations for the reported inconsistency between Artan’s statements to the judge and his statements to the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C. If Artan wishes to give me his explanation, I’m happy to publish it.

As to the issue of whether Fiorentino provided Artan with the FBI reports, I am again relying on information from published reports. Specifically, a December 9, 2008 article by Scott Glover states that: former FBI agent Rossini conducted law enforcement database searches that were related to the case against Pellicano; Rossini provided an FBI report to a person called only “X” in court documents; sources familiar with the case identified “X” as Linda Fiorentino; and court documents state that “X” provided the document to one of Pellicano’s attorneys:

Rossini admitted to conducting more than 40 unauthorized searches of the bureau’s Automated Case Support System, which contains confidential and sensitive information relating to ongoing and historic cases investigated by the FBI.

Many of the searches related to the criminal case against Pellicano, who was tried and convicted earlier this year in Los Angeles.

Rossini admitted to downloading an FBI report from the database and providing it to person “X,” with whom he had a close personal relationship, according to a formal admission, called a “Statement of the Offense.”

That person, identified by sources familiar with the case as actress Linda Fiorentino, had a relationship with Pellicano and provided the report to one of his attorneys, court documents state.

(Emphasis is mine.)

I have previously linked the court document here. It says that on February 14, 2007, “X” provided the FBI report to an attorney for Pellicano in San Francisco. That is where Artan’s co-counsel Steven Gruel is based.

Numerous publications have reported that Rossini obtained FBI documents for Fiorentino; one headline read Ex-agent admits hacking into FBI to help actress. Published reports and court documents support the theory that Fiorentino passed an FBI document to Pellicano’s defense team. News reports have also said that Artan discussed the document in court with a judge. The only question seems to be how the report got from Fiorentino to Artan, and whether Artan knew the identity of the source (or sources) — questions that only get murkier with Artan’s letter to me.

Rather than demanding retractions from bloggers asking legitimate questions, Mr. Artan ought to attempt to reconcile his various statements regarding that issue.

Finally, Mr. Artan seems to think that I have suggested that Mr. Rossini and/or Ms. Fiorentino acted in concert with Artan, or on his behalf, or that I have accused him of “complicity” in Ms. Fiorentino’s actions. I never made any such statement, and I have no idea where he got the idea that I have.

I have not claimed and do not claim that Artan solicited Rossini or Fiorentino to conduct unauthorized searches. Mr. Artan quotes a passage from my December 15, 2008 post in which I say:

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].

If Mr. Artan is asking me to retract the suggestion that he has a “real set of” balls, I will cheerfully do so. Other than that, I see nothing in the passage that is false. In it, I accuse Mr. Artan of nothing more than making a pretty damned nervy legal argument.

Specifically, it is my view that Pellicano’s modus operandi includes getting information from people working inside law enforcement. The convictions of Mr. Pellicano, Mark Arneson, and Craig Stevens support my view that Pellicano had men inside local law enforcement working on his behalf. Now, with the recent plea of Mr. Rossini, the world has learned that someone inside the FBI was also illegally obtaining information that was later used in Pellicano’s defense.

Rossini’s case only reinforced the impression that Pellicano’s criminal conspiracy was even more far-flung than had been previously suspected. In my view, that fact didn’t help Pellicano; if anything, it hurt his legal argument for leniency. For Mr. Artan to refer to Mr. Rossini’s case in Pellicano’s sentencing memorandum, as though anything about Mr. Rossini’s case should reduce Pellicano’s sentence, in my view, took tremendous chutzpah.

That’s my honestly held view, and it’s backed up by the available evidence. But it has nothing to do with Mr. Artan. I’m not saying Artan was part of Pellicano’s conspiracy, and I never said it before. Pellicano was perfectly capable of running that conspiracy without the help of Mr. Artan.

I hope this reassures Mr. Artan that I have not made the accusations he believes I have made. I have accused him of no participation in any criminal conduct. You have Mr. Artan’s side in the form of his letter to me. In addition, I invite Mr. Artan to correct the record further if he feels the need. (Since Mr. Artan is apparently a reader of this blog, I assume he will see my invitation.)

So far, however, his explanations only raise new questions.

59 Responses to “Patterico Gets a Letter from Pellicano’s Lawyer”

  1. Patterico,

    If Mr. Artan wants to say he’s a eunich, let him. ;->

    PCD (7fe637)

  2. The post in a nutshell: Rather than demanding retractions from bloggers asking legitimate questions, Mr. Artan ought to attempt to reconcile his various statements regarding that issue.

    aunursa (1b5bad)

  3. The lesson too is that if you want an issue to go away, sending letters demanding retractions of the implications not explicitly made is a damn foolish way to go about getting it to go away.

    And its not the sign of a competent attorney in my opinion.

    SPQR (72771e)

  4. The first thing that comes to mind is “The guilty doth protest too much.” Not always true, of course.

    htom (412a17)

  5. Carefull SPQR, you’re gonna get a letter, too.

    aunursa (1b5bad)

  6. What the heck kind of signature was that on the letter? Probably the fellow sends out so many similar letters that he has a secretary sign them?

    Eric Blair (e906af)

  7. In my experience it’s kind of unusual for a lawyer to ask you to say he’s lacking testicular fortitude, but California is a strange place.

    If documents were delivered to a co-defense counsel, which you also did not allege, perhaps that is a technicality Mr. Artan would like to explain, but I doubt it.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  8. Oh this is rich! They want to drag you into their conviction appeal.

    AS IF!

    (Side Note: Do rent The Last Seduction. She’s really quite fabulous in it.)

    David Ehrenstein (65f9fc)

  9. There seems to be elements of projection in Mr. Artan’s protestations.
    I would hope for his sake, that his statements to the Feds were couched in more “nuanced” language than he has used here, and in other public statements.
    He should thank his lucky stars (so far) that he’s not in Chicago.

    Another Drew (031c0f)

  10. Has Artan heard of the Streisand Effect? I’ve not been particularly interested in these Pellicano posts. But now, wow. What’s going to happen next?!

    “The suggestions in your blogs …” – haha.

    Wesson (3ab0b8)

  11. I always thought “The Immaculate Reception” referred to a football play I watched in a Raiders-Steelers game on TV in 1972. I had no idea it was a legal term of art used to describe the receipt of documents.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  12. “The suggestions in your blogs …” – haha.

    I got a suggestion for him, all right…

    Three words… First is “go” the third is “yourself”, and the second uses several letters found in the commonly used word “firetruck”…

    :)

    I figured that considering who his client is, I should try and speak a language he’s used to. 😉

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  13. Do these people really think that threatening blogs works anymore ? As someone else put it, he has really gotten people interested now.

    Mike K (531ff4)

  14. Go for it, Patterico. I’ll help as much as I can.

    Should Mr. Artan sue you, depose him, subpoena everything he has, and subpoena duces tecum everything else that might lead to something material in the case. Then turn everything over to the bar association and the U.S. Attorney.

    nk (20403f)

  15. […] details: Patterico Gets a Letter from Pellicano’s Lawyer […]

    Patterico Gets a Letter from Pellicano’s Lawyer | kozmom (9d25bf)

  16. I say the more people interested, the better. This is really unbelievable – and that the letter was delivered to your home by messenger seems not only creepy but has a bit of a whiff of intimidation as well.

    Dana (79a78b)

  17. Anyone else get the impression someone doesn’t know someone else is a lawyer?

    SEK (072055)

  18. As a matter of fact…

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  19. and that the letter was delivered to your home by messenger seems not only creepy

    I’m not sure if that’s so bad – I was served at my place of work, which was specifically designed to intimidate and embarrass me in front of my peers. Didn’t work, and only made me more determined during my upcoming deposition. Getting it at home would’ve been preferable, IMHO.

    Dmac (e30284)

  20. Hi, Mike! I’m dying to hear what the “or else” consists of. Do tell, won’t you?

    Pablo (99243e)

  21. Dmac, perhaps you are right but I saw it more as an ‘We know where you live’ sort of thing…what an invasion of privacy. (I better be quiet though, I don’t want a letter…)

    I hope Altman posts here where the supposed accusations were made. Transparency always plays well.

    Dana (79a78b)

  22. Is Mr. Artan trying out for a stint on Saturday Night Live? And that signature–it looks like something that ought be on display at MOCA.

    Stu707 (7fb2e7)

  23. aunursa, I’ve gotten letters from more competent people than Artan.

    SPQR (72771e)

  24. (IANAL) Does “defamatory statements” equal “libel”?

    m (cf340e)

  25. Michael Artan?

    I spent a good ten minutes pondering how pathetic it is that this guy has so quickly gone from being a promising leading man, starring opposite super-hottie Jennifer Garner (a/k/a “Agent Sydney Bristow”) in “Alias,” to being the kind of shlump lawyer who writes letters like this one.

    Then I realized that I was thinking of “Michael Vartan.”

    Beldar (294770)

  26. Comment by Beldar — 12/23/2008 @ 2:05 pm

    You’ll probably get a threatening letter from Mr. Vartan’s lawyer now, and deservedly so for conflating the two.

    Another Drew (031c0f)

  27. m asks whether “defamatory statements” equal “libel”?

    A: Yes, when in print. Oral defamation would be slander.

    Bonus: It’s a joke in Spiderman:

    Peter Parker: Spider-Man wasn’t trying to attack the city, he was trying to save it. That’s slander.
    J. Jonah Jameson: It is not. I resent that. Slander is spoken. In print, it’s libel.

    Karl (537cef)

  28. Wow, a lawyerr pee-pee match.

    Another reason we should bar any further production of lawyers.

    A noble profession gone wrong.

    Da'Shiznit (d0f5bf)

  29. #26 Karl
    Thank you, Karl.
    Wonder if Scott Glover has gotten a similar letter.

    m (cf340e)

  30. What I have said is that there are news reports saying that Artan has made some puzzlingly inconsistent statements regarding where he obtained an FBI report…

    Maybe the part he wants you to retract is the part where you imply that the L.A. Times is a “news agency”.

    Karl Lembke (ff486c)

  31. Michael Artan. Never would have remembered that name in such a complicated case.

    After his letter drawing attention to the questions of the consistency of his statements in the Pellicano mess, I will now.

    Apogee (f4320c)

  32. I think the real scandal here is that it turns out that Patterico’s real name is John. Aw hell, all of you probably knew that already, but I didn’t.

    JVW (bff0a4)

  33. It was a battle between my mom and dad. She wanted John. He wanted Patrick. She thought she won when she got John as my first name.

    Then Dad and Grandma teamed up calling me Patrick, and Mom thought I’d have mental issues if I was called two different names.

    Little did she know I’d have them anyway!

    Patterico (cccfeb)

  34. Your first name isn’t Patrick? Why, I’ll bet you’re not really a plumber either!

    Pablo (99243e)

  35. Well now it will be doubly funny when Artan is indicted for giving false statements to a federal agent

    CStudent (635e0b)

  36. “Why, I’ll bet you’re not really a plumber either!”

    I’m not even a licensed blogger!

    Patterico (5da46e)

  37. Well now it will be doubly funny when Artan is indicted for giving false statements to a federal agent.

    Were that to happen, would “John” have an actionable case against people making false allegations of defamation?

    Apogee (f4320c)

  38. Oh, and Patterico, I can get you a blogging license. They’re $1000.00. Send me the money and I’ll file the paperwork for you.

    Apogee (f4320c)

  39. #32: I didn’t either.

    Okay “John.” If that’s your “real” name.

    aunursa (e9b1f7)

  40. I knew his first name was John, so there. I also knew he wasn’t really related to Glenn, Amber or James, though ya gotta admit, Glennerico, Amberrico and Jameserico do all have a nice ring to them. Johnnerico, not so much.

    *erico: don’t listen to Apogee. I can get your license for $850.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  41. So is he Bijan’ s brother or something? That’s a great signature. Worthy of a big cologne ad in GQ.

    Vermont Neighbor (ceab4f)

  42. *erico: don’t listen to Apogee. I can get your license for $850.

    Did you guys get new jobs in His Administration? Congrats!

    Pablo (99243e)

  43. I am not a lawyer and do not play one on TV. However, from my days as a court reporter I recognize when a lawyer has a losing case: he pounds the table about the Bill of Rights and the Constitution or he engages in thugosity like the instant letter.

    Be careful out there!

    Patricia (ee5c9d)

  44. *erico: don’t listen to Apogee. I can get your license for $850.

    Did you guys get new jobs in His Administration? Congrats!

    I did not, and I can get that locense for $500.

    It helps to have someone on the inside in Chicago… Threaten to tell the feds “I overheard you talking to , and man… they jump FAST to make you happy… I don’t know why…

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  45. I’ve heard you can get international blogging licenses in Nigeria.

    DRJ (be6fb0)

  46. I wanted to name my daughter after my mother. My in-laws were pushing for my mother-in-law’s name. I told them that I had already decided on a name — America. Without going into my cultural history, it was very important that the kid be named after a grandparent. So I get a telephone call: “What are you going to name the baby?” “America”. “Well, what’s your mother’s name?” “_____________” “____________ is a nice name”.

    nk (20403f)

  47. “I’ve heard you can get international blogging licenses in Nigeria.”

    DRJ – Thanks for the reminder.

    Patterico – I have some rather large bank deposits in Nigeria temporaily frozen by the government. In return for some very minor assistance on your part in freeing those deposits, I can obtain one of those Nigerian blogging licenses to which DRJ refers.

    Trust me on this.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  48. Blogging license….
    Yes, but I can also get you a lifetime supply of carbon-offset credits at a price you will not believe.

    Another Drew (031c0f)

  49. This is priceless …

    JD (e96920)

  50. Maybe the part he wants you to retract is the part where you imply that the L.A. Times is a “news agency”.

    Well done, sir. Well done indeed.

    JD (e96920)

  51. #23 SPQR:

    I’ve gotten letters from more competent people than Artan.

    I’d even wager that some were from people that didn’t lay claim to a juris doctor degree…

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  52. EW1 !!!!!!!!!

    How goes it?

    JD (e96920)

  53. I wonder if Artan knows Cyrus.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  54. #52 JD: Good~How’s your recovery coming? Little one excited about Christmas?

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  55. You know those jokers who will name some obscure star after your friend for only $54 and print the name in some copyrighted book? I can beat that, too. For only $50, I’ll let you name any star you want, including the friggin’ sun if that’s your choice. And if you’re willing to accept a Creative Commons license in lieu of registry with the Copyright Office, I’ll do it for $40 instead.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  56. EW1(SG) well, that goes without saying …

    SPQR (72771e)

  57. Typical defense attorney blather. Artan is a pure Boviator.

    Boils (29ac89)

  58. […] California legal blogger gets a menacing letter from a lawyer demanding […]

    Patterico on Pellicano case (1562ea)

  59. […] 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. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Former FBI Agent Enters Guilty Plea for Illegally Accessing Documents Used in Pellicano Defense (e4ab32)


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