As noted in the main post, Philips repeatedly wrote stories supporting Pellicano’s defense theories, and questioning the honesty of federal law enforcement agents. This page details some of the history of that slanted coverage.
In early 2007, Philips repeatedly touted claims by Pellicano’s defense team that federal law enforcement, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Saunders and FBI Special Agent Stanley Ornellas, had leaked information about the case to Philips’s competitors at the New York Times. Philips even wrote an article ironically juxtaposing the defense allegations of prosecutorial improprieties with AUSA Saunders’s appearance as a speaker on ethics at a “posh retreat” for defense attorneys in Aspen.
In April 2007, Pellicano’s defense team renewed its formerly unsuccessful legal attack on the validity of the search warrant used to search Pellicano’s office. If the search warrant were ruled invalid, the case against Pellicano would collapse.
As Philips reported on April 13, 2007, Pellicano’s defense team argued that the FBI had lied in its affidavit in support of the search warrant. According to the defense, the FBI manufactured probable cause to search Pellicano’s office, because Pellicano allegedly had evidence damaging to the FBI — namely, a recording of an attempted bribe of an FBI agent. (The FBI had found the bribery allegation to be “baseless.”)
Philips wrote numerous stories attacking the credibility of Ornellas and the FBI search warrant in the Pellicano case. In June 2007, Philips wrote that the defense team was accusing Special Agent Ornellas of deliberately withholding information about the credibility of the government’s informant. Philips followed up on August 17, 2007 with a story in which Steven Seagal complained of “[f]alse FBI accusations” that had hurt his career. On October 9, 2007, Philips wrote another article suggesting that Special Agent Ornellas had misled the court in the affidavit supporting the search warrant.
On December 17, 2007, Philips published an article titled “Pellicano defense focusing on FBI agent.” The article laid out a comprehensive set of defense attacks on the search warrant, including several that disparaged the honesty and integrity of Special Agent Ornellas. The article purported to “balance” the attacks on Ornellas with quotes from people who had worked with Ornellas for years, who said he was an honorable man with a solid reputation for candor.
But as he was writing those supposedly objective stories, Philips was telling Alexander Proctor that he believed the government had deceived Pellicano, violated his rights, and illegally spied on him.
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