Pellicano Prosecution Rests

A federal prosecutor called Anthony Pellicano a "very well-connected and very well-paid thug" in closing arguments April 29th as the so-called Hollywood Wiretap trial of the onetime private investigator to the stars wound down.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel Saunders added that his agency was "nothing more than a criminal organization" and when Pellicano gets hired, "witnesses start receiving threatening phone calls … and dead fish appear on reporters’ cars."

The summation lasted five hours, according to the Los Angeles Times, and when the judge asked jurors if they’d like to go home and hear the final half-hour the following day, the panelists opted to stay late.

The jury must decide on 78 counts against Pellicano and four other defendants. But Saunders boiled it all down to one main point: "It is about a group of people who got together to gather information, and who did it in ways that broke the law," he said. "And the reason there are so many counts is because they did it over and over and over again."

He pointed to two co-defendants – former L.A. Police Sgt. Mark Arneson and former telephone technician Ray Turner – to show how the "enterprise" worked.

Saunders said that Arneson provided confidential information to Pellicano by illegally accessing law enforcement databases, and Turner supplied the P.I. with confidential phone company records and helped implement illegal wiretaps. Both were on Pellicano’s payroll.

In one example, Saunders said that a few days after CAA co-founder Michael Ovitz hired Pellicano to dig up dirt on reporters Anita Busch and Bernard Weinraub, Arneson went through their confidential police records. At about the same time, Turner is alleged to have done the same with their telephone records.

Busch later found a dead fish and rose on the broken windshield of her car.

"If I have to spend a lot of time explaining that defendant Pellicano is guilty of wiretapping," the Times quoted Saunders saying, "then the government hasn’t done its job or you haven’t been paying attention."

One "indisputable wiretap recording" used as evidence in the trial was that of an intimate phone call between Lisa Gores and her former brother-in-law Tom Gores, who were discussing whether their extramarital affair had been discovered.

Pellicano acted as his own attorney in the case, which saw some moments of high drama, including testimony from Lisa Gores and Ovitz. The high-profile targets of Pellicano’s alleged misconduct included comedians Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon, and actor Sylvester Stallone.