Was it a condition of NEWSWEEK’s interview with federal prisoner Anthony Pellicano that they allow him to pretend without contradiction that he didn’t menace Anita Busch?
Hint to reporters: when someone pleads to something, it’s OK to say they did it.
With a Louisville Slugger in the trunk of his car and a computerized phone-hacking system in his Sunset Boulevard office, Pellicano dug up dirt on his clients’ enemies and helped make those problems go away—whether it was the embittered spouse of a mogul, an inconvenient gay lover, or a nosy journalist. That is, until he allegedly hired someone to intimidate the wrong nosy journalist—Anita Busch of the Los Angeles Times—and the FBI got involved, blowing the lid off the biggest wiretapping operation this side of Watergate.
What is this word “allegedly” doing there? Let’s review: this man pled no contest to threatening Busch in October 2009:
Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano and another man, accused of threatening reporter Anita Busch in 2002 to scare her off a story, pleaded no contest today to making a criminal threat.
But you’d never know it from the fellatio-as-news article interviewing Pellicano. They mention his federal convictions for possessing explosives, wiretapping, and the like — but allow him to pose as innocent of threatening Busch:
Pellicano gained access to Hollywood’s A-list after meeting celebrity power-attorney Bert Fields, who started using his services. Eventually, the detective was spying on Sylvester Stallone, comedian Garry Shandling, and Nicole Kidman. When he wasn’t digging through their dirty laundry, he was power-lunching with the stars, tooling around in his black Mercedes and dark sunglasses, and rubbing elbows with moguls like Ovitz, Universal Studios president Ron Meyer, and manager Brad Grey, now head of Paramount (Grey even attempted to make an HBO pilot with Pellicano, about a Hollywood detective).
It all came to a screeching halt in 2002, when federal agents started looking for evidence of his involvement in a plot to threaten the L.A. Times’s Busch—who had previously written about the downfall of Ovitz, and was now pursuing a story about alleged mob ties to movie star Steven Seagal. Busch discovered the windshield of her car smashed, and a dead fish left behind with a note reading “Stop.” (The man who vandalized Busch’s car, a Pellicano flunky named Alexander Proctor, told the FBI that he’d been hired by the detective. But Pellicano still maintains he had nothing to do with harassing Busch, who is suing him and Ovitz.)
“Maintain” it all you like, pal. You did it. You pled to it. NEWSWEEK won’t say it. I will.
Meanwhile, NEWSWEEK lets Pellicano portray himself as a hero:
Pellicano is currently appealing his conviction, and if he’s successful, he could be out by 2013, six years before his eligible parole date. He’s pinning his hopes on an 86-page appeals brief that accuses the government of misconduct, misrepresentation, and constitutional violation. Among other things, the brief charges that the agents’ search of his office was illegal. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has until late September to respond to the brief.
In the meantime, Pellicano has 30 civil lawsuits hanging over his head, including the one from Busch. Will Pellicano rat out anyone in the civil cases? Don’t count on it, says his attorney and friend Steven Gruel. “Everyone expected this to be the case that rocked Hollywood, and it didn’t happen, and it didn’t bring in the great names they hypothesized would happen,” the attorney says. “He wouldn’t buckle, and that is why he is in Big Spring, Texas, today.”
Yeah, that and all the crimes he committed.
The claim that the search of his office was illegal, by the way, is a story that disgraced Los Angeles Times reporter Chuck Philips tried mightily to push. This very blog you’re reading revealed that Philips liked the story so much, he wrote letters to inmates trying to get them to sign onto that story. The letters were phrased as follows: I don’t know if it’s true, but I’m told that the FBI tried to feed you a story about Pellicano . . . and you should know that they have admitted that some of your conversations were not recorded, so do you remember these things I am suggesting you should remember? Look at excerpts like this:
(Top of page 2)
Philips admitted to me that he had written these letters.
Meanwhile, Busch’s employer, the Los Angeles Times, treated Pellicano as the trustworthy one and Anita as a vaguely crazy person whose stories of being menaced were just a little suspect. If you haven’t pored through the links in this post before, do so now. They are eye-opening.
The media, and Busch’s employer, did its level best to conceal the full extent of the dirty business Pellicano was involved with, and Philips’s involvement in writing slanted stories to try to get Pellicano’s conviction reversed. The cover-up continues today with NEWSWEEK’s shameful story.
Thanks to C.B.