I reprint the whole thing here only because the newspaper has whisked away the initial version, and readers have a right to access it to determine that my criticisms of this version were accurate. I believe that is fair use under these circumstances. However, if the paper disagrees, I’ll take it down.
Pellicano gets 15 years in wiretapping case
The private investigator’s sentence was longer than the five-year, 10-month term recommended by the Probation Department. Four co-defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in January.
By Victoria Kim
December 16, 2008
Former Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano was sentenced to 15 years in prison this afternoon for running an illegal wiretapping operation that gathered information for a list of well-to-do clients, including celebrities, attorneys and business executives.
U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer’s sentence was longer than the five-year, 10-month punishment recommended by the Probation Department.
Pellicano, whose clients and victims ranked among Hollywood’s biggest stars and most powerful executives, was convicted in two criminal trials earlier this year of 78 counts, including wiretapping, computer fraud and wire fraud.
In court papers filed in October, prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Pellicano, 64, to more than 15 years in prison, saying the sleuth was charged with, and convicted of, only a fraction of the crimes he actually committed.
By tapping phones and bribing public officials, Pellicano violated fundamental privacy rights of hundreds of people and chipped away at the integrity of public institutions, prosecutors wrote. They added that Pellicano continues to show nothing but pride for the criminal enterprise he ran.
Though Pellicano represented himself at the federal trials — lending to moments of farce and confusion — he relied on a court-appointed attorney for his sentencing. Attorney Michael Artan had sought a more lenient sentence from Fischer, arguing that Pellicano’s “hardscrabble” youth, work as a forensic audio expert for the government and financial struggle to provide for his autistic son in the years before his arrest were mitigating factors she should consider.
Similar pleas for leniency for Pellicano and his co-defendants, however, have been dismissed by Fischer.
Last week, the judge ordered Pellicano and two co-defendants to forfeit more than $2 million, an amount requested by prosecutors. And last month, Fischer sentenced Pellicano’s co-conspirator, attorney Terry Christensen, to three years in prison, rejecting a recommendation from the Probation Department that he be placed under house arrest. Fischer rebuked Christensen, who was accused of conspiring with Pellicano to wiretap his opponents in trial, for “marring” the legal profession.
Four other defendants are scheduled to be sentenced next month.
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 investigation led authorities to Pellicano’s office, and it quickly snowballed into a wide-reaching probe that appeared would implicate some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Among Pellicano’s clients were Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson and Chris Rock.
Pellicano’s co-defendants included Sgt. Mark Arneson of the Los Angeles Police Department, computer technician Kevin Kachikian, and phone company employee Ray Turner, who were all convicted in sweeping jury verdicts. They helped Pellicano earn millions by getting information on ex-spouses, business associates and opponents in lawsuits, prosecutors said.
Kim is a Times staff writer.