Pellicano Gets 15 Years

Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison for running a wiretapping scheme that spied on the rich and famous.

U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer also ordered the 64-year-old Pellicano and two other defendants to forfeit a total of $2 million.

Pellicano showed no emotion when the sentence was read. “I have taken full and complete responsibility,” he said.

The private eye was convicted of a combined 78 counts, including wiretapping, racketeering and wire fraud, in two separate trials earlier this year.

Prosecutors said Pellicano wiretapped stars such as Sylvester Stallone and bribed police officers to run the names of comedians such as Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon through law enforcement databases to dig up dirt that clients could use in legal and other disputes.

In all, 14 people have been charged. Seven, including film director John McTiernan and former Hollywood Records president Robert Pfeifer, have pleaded guilty to charges including perjury and conspiracy.

Authorities investigated Pellicano’s activities for three years. An indictment was unsealed in February 2006, just days after he completed a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for possessing illegal weapons.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors portrayed Pellicano as a well-connected thug who ran a lucrative business by charging clients a nonrefundable retainer fee that started at $25,000 and could reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Authorities were led to Pellicano after former Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch found a dead fish with a rose in its mouth on her car along with a sign reading “stop” in June 2002.

The discovery came after she wrote a series of unflattering articles about one-time superagent Michael Ovitz, a Pellicano client.

Major industry players with links to Pellicano, such as Ovitz, Paramount studio head Brad Grey and entertainment attorney Bert Fields, weren’t charged in the case and maintained they didn’t know about Pellicano’s tactics.

Pellicano and four co-defendants, who prosecutors say played a supporting role in the scheme, were convicted in May.

Pellicano acted as his own attorney and called only one witness. He kept his promise that he wouldn’t give up information about his clients to save himself.

Later, Pellicano was found guilty along with entertainment attorney Terry Christensen of charges linked to the wiretapping of billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian’s former wife in a child support battle.

Prosecutors said they bugged her phone conversations to disprove her claims that the MGM mogul was the father of her young daughter. DNA tests later showed movie producer Steve Bing was the biological father.

Christensen was sentenced last month to three years is prison.

Pellicano and Alexander Proctor, who prosecutors said was hired by the private eye, are awaiting trial in state court on charges of conspiracy and making criminal threats in the Busch case. Proctor, 65, is serving a 10-year sentence on unrelated drug charges in a Georgia prison.

Numerous civil lawsuits against Pellicano and others seek unspecified damages and claim his activities amounted to invasion of privacy, negligence and infliction of emotional distress.