- "Pellicano" redirects here. For the detective-fiction writer, see George Pelecanos.
Anthony Pellicano (born March 22, 1944, in Chicago, Illinois) is a former high-profile Los Angeles private investigator who served a 30-month federal prison sentence for illegal possession of explosives, firearms and homemade grenades. On February 4, 2006, Pellicano was arrested for wiretapping and racketeering.
On May 15, 2008, after representing himself and nine days of jury deliberation, Pellicano was found guilty on 76 of 77 counts related to racketeering, along with four co-defendants. “If the government has no plans to go higher than Pellicano, this is a depressingly pedestrian effort that shows a lack of ambition,” commented John C. Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School and an expert on white-collar crime, as quoted in the NY Times story on the verdict.
After a six-week trial in the District Federal Court in Los Angeles Pellicano was convicted of wiretapping and conspiracy to commit wiretapping. The court denied Pellicano's request for concurrent sentencing on the multiple counts and imposed in December 2008 15 additional years in prison and ordered Pellicano (with two co-defendants) to forfeit $2 million.
In a story published in Newsweek on Aug 7, 2011, Anthony Pellicano, in his first interview since going to prison, revealed new details about his activities. On July 5, 2012, the Hollywood Reporter published a story that Pellicano's bail hearing was postponed. Pellicano's lawyer requested the delay because of a personal health issue. The next day it was reported that Tom Cruise had been "accused of wiretap conspiracy with convicted criminal Anthony Pellicano during Nicole Kidman divorce".
On February 6, 2006, Pellicano was indicted on 110 counts in United States District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles alleging crimes of racketeering and conspiracy, wiretapping, witness tampering, identity theft and destruction of evidence. Six other associates were also charged. Pellicano was denied bail. Pellicano presently is being held in general population at the Federal Detention Center in Los Angeles. His trial and that of five other co-defendants, was scheduled to begin on February 27, 2008. The trial date was delayed three times, due to a lengthy discovery process, according to press reports, and for the addition of defense counsel.
The indictment alleges, in part, that members of the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments unlawfully accessed confidential records on celebrities and public figures that they turned over to Pellicano. Pellicano and associates allegedly tapped actor Sylvester Stallone's telephone and accessed confidential police records on other public figures, including comedians Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon.
The indictment was amended on February 15, 2006, to include two more charges of wiretapping and extortion, at which time prominent entertainment attorney Terry Christensen was also charged. To date, thirteen people have been charged in the pending matter.
On June 7, 2006, the Associated Press reported that Pellicano performed an illegal background check on a law enforcement official who was investigating client and con artist Christophe Rocancourt in a fake passport scheme.
Pellicano and Christensen were each convicted August 29, 2008, of conspiracy to commit wiretapping. Pellicano was also convicted of wiretapping and Christensen was also convicted of aiding and abetting a wiretap.
Once known as "P.I. to the stars"
Before his arrest and guilty plea on the explosives charge, Pellicano was known in the mass media as the "PI to the stars" because of his work for many prominent Hollywood celebrities. According to former associate Paul Barresi, Pellicano would sometimes purchase tabloid reporters' celebrity gossip before it became public. Barresi said, "Tony would not even consider taking on a client without first getting a fat retainer of $25,000 or more. Celebrity would pursue Pellicano because he is the best in the industry. If you want a fire to be put out or keep some bastard in check, Tony is the Go To Guy hands down."
As a result of an investigation involving one of his former clients, actor Steven Seagal, FBI agents raided Pellicano's offices on November 21, 2002, searching for evidence that he was involved in a threat against a Los Angeles Times reporter investigating Seagal and Julius Nasso. During the search, agents found two practice grenades modified to function as homemade bombs as well as military-grade C-4 plastic explosives sufficient to take down a passenger jet.
After his arrest in 2002, Pellicano pleaded guilty to illegal possession of dangerous materials and was sentenced to thirty months in federal prison. He was to be released on February 4, 2006, but on February 3, was transferred to the Federal Detention center in Downtown Los Angeles pending the new indictment on wiretapping and racketeering charges.
Related investigations and celebrity connections
On January 25, 2008, the investigative news website ERSNews.com "The Enterprise Report:" revealed the story of how the former girlfriend of ex-Hollywood Records executive Robert Pfeifer, a woman named Erin Finn, became deeply involved in assisting the FBI and its lead agent on the case Stanley Ornellas in investigating Pellicano and bringing federal charges against him and his close friend Pfeifer.
The new charges are a result of a three-year federal investigation into his suspected illegal use of wiretaps and confidential law enforcement records. On January 11, 2006, Pellicano's girlfriend Sandra Will Carradine, the ex-wife of actor Keith Carradine (who was also wiretapped by Pellicano) and veteran Beverly Hills police officer Craig Stevens pleaded guilty to lying about the former detective's use of wiretaps and other illegal tactics. Vanity Fair magazine reported in 2004 that the FBI has also questioned Warren Beatty and Shandling about the matter.
Pellicano's close friend and former record executive Robert Joseph Pfeifer was arrested on February 3, 2006, and charged with unlawful wiretapping and conspiracy.
On April 3, 2006, film director John McTiernan was charged in federal court with lying to the FBI. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, McTiernan was charged with an information, rather than in grand jury indictment, which means he waived his right to an indictment and suggests he may have reached either a prior plea agreement with prosecutors or some sort of cooperating agreement. He was sentenced on September 24, 2007, to four months in prison for lying about his relationship with Pellicano. McTiernan was arraigned and pleaded guilty on April 17, 2006.
On March 17, 2006, the "Page Six" gossip column in the New York Post reported that actress Nicole Kidman was questioned by the FBI as part of the ongoing Pellicano investigation. Telephone voice recordings of Tom Cruise speaking to his wife at the time, Nicole, were found when authorities first raided Pellicano's offices in 2002. The tapes were allegedly made in 2001, shortly after the Cruises announced they were separating. Cruise used lawyer Dennis Wasser to negotiate his separation and Wasser regularly retained Pellicano's services. Although he has not been charged in the case, Wasser has been told by the FBI he is a "person of interest."
Prominent Hollywood attorney Bertram Fields, a long-time client of Pellicano (lawyer for Tom Cruise), has repeatedly been connected to the ongoing federal wiretapping investigation in the press because of allegations that his celebrity clients have benefited from the former PI's alleged illegal wiretaps directed against members of the media and prominent critics. Carradine and Stevens pleaded guilty to charges they lied about Pellicano's activities against an opponent of one of Fields's clients. Fields has said in statements release by his attorney that he had no knowledge of any possibly illegal activity. Variety reported in 2003 that Stallone was questioned by the FBI when it was revealed the actor's phone may have been illegally tapped by Pellicano, who was working at the time for a client of Fields.
Former Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch had filed a civil lawsuit against Pellicano on May 28, 2004, alleging that he was part of a harassment campaign which included illegal wiretapping and a 2002 death threat.
In 2002, Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch discovered a dead fish with a red rose in its mouth and a sign reading "Stop" on the cracked windshield of her car. At the time, she was writing about Steven Seagal and Mike Ovitz, both clients of Pellicano. The trail eventually led to his office, where FBI agents discovering plastic explosives, grenades, pistols and about $200,000 in cash in Pellicano's safe. He pleaded guilty to weapons charges and went to prison.
On August 10, 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that businessman Kirk Kerkorian's attorneys have been sued by his former wife Lisa Bonder's attorney because of their connection to Pellicano. Bonder's attorney alleges that Kerkorian's lawyers hired Pellicano to wiretap telephone calls illegally between him and Bonder in order to gain a tactical advantage in the Kerkorian divorce proceedings. While working for Kerkorian, Pellicano investigated his friend Steve Bing, testing a strand of used dental floss taken from Bing's trash and proving Bing had fathered Bonder's daughter.
According to an FBI summary, Pellicano was known to play Hollywood clients against each other, at one point asking financier Ron Burkle for a $100,000 to $250,000 shakedown not to be investigated by Michael Ovitz, another Pellicano client. In a twist to the case on April 12, 2007, The New York Times revealed evidence that movie producer Steve Bing, while also being investigated by Pellicano, also paid Pellicano $335,000 between June 2000 and August 2002. Excerpts from audiotapes show Pellicano bragging to Kerkorian's lawyer in April and May 2002 that he was "working for" and "consulting for" Bing in matters related to Elizabeth Hurley and her pregnancy (the paternity of which initially Bing disputed). A lawyer for Bing, Martin Singer, called Pellicano's statement regarding Hurley "an absolute lie." In 2003, the Daily Mail retracted a story and reportedly paid a "substantial" settlement to Bing after Pellicano's sworn statement that he had "never been engaged by Mr. Bing nor his attorney Mr. Martin Singer to investigate anyone on Mr. Bing’s behalf, including Ms. Hurley."
New York Times controversy
On July 6, 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that New York Times reporter Allison Weiner was barred from the main Los Angeles jail after allegedly misrepresenting herself as an attorney involved in the Pellicano case in order to see the jailed former detective. While Weiner is a member of the California Bar, she visited Pellicano as a reporter and is not involved in his defense. Weiner reportedly used her bar membership card to see Pellicano in order to evade the warden's order that no one could see Pellicano except his lawyers or immediate family members. To date, Weiner has written numerous articles about Pellicano.
Five-month-old Sabrina Aisenberg disappeared from her parents' unlocked home during the night of November 27, 1997, and has never been found. Anthony Pellicano was a wiretap consultant for the government in connection with the 1999 Hillsborough County Florida investigation and federal prosecution of Steven and Marlene Aisenberg for making false statements to law enforcement officials. In 2001, county detectives were found to have lied about both in obtaining warrants and as to the content of the conversations recorded under those warrants, and the indictment of the Aisenbergs was dismissed. The US Attorney later admitted that the prosecution was frivolous, vexatious, or in bad faith (in the terminology of the Hyde Amendment, U.S. Public Law 105-119, which added a footnote to 18 U.S.C. § 3006A). In his capacity as an expert, Pellicano claimed to hear those supposed conversations that the opposing former FBI expert and the federal magistrate judge could not hear.
Pellicano is known to have represented Anthony "the Ant" Spilotro, the Chicago mobster charged with monitoring the Las Vegas casino "skim" for the Chicago mob. Gustave Reininger, the co-creator of NBC's acclaimed television drama Crime Story, was served both a subpoena and a warning from Spilotro through Pellicano.
- Hall, Carla; Abdollah, Tami (2008-05-16). "Pellicano found guilty of racketeering". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2010-12-21. Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- John C. Coffee bio Archived April 30, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- "Investigator to the Stars Convicted, ''NY Times'' issue dated 16 May, 2008". Nytimes.com. 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2013-02-12.
- Barnes, Brooks (2008-08-29). "Pellicano and a Lawyer Convicted in Wiretapping". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- Barnes, Brooks (2008-12-15). "15 Years for Hollywood Investigator". The New York Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- Christine Pelisek (2011-08-07). "Anthony Pellicano: The Hollywood Phone Hacker Breaks His Silence - Newsweek and The Daily Beast". Thedailybeast.com. Retrieved 2013-02-12.
- 7 MOS. "Anthony Pellicano Bail Hearing Postponed". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-02-12.
- Howard, Dylan (2012-07-06). "Tom Cruise Accused of Wiretap Conspiracy With Convicted Criminal Anthony Pellicano During Nicole Kidman Divorce (EXCLUSIVE)". Celebuzz. Retrieved 2013-02-12.
- http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060206/ap_on_re_us/private_eye_indicted_1[dead link]
- "Pellicano's wiretap trial pushed to August". Variety. November 20, 2006. Archived from the original on 2010-12-21.
- http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=2628&ncid=2628&e=21&u=/ap/20060607/ap_on_re_us/hollywood_wiretaps_1[dead link]
- Clasees.lls.edu Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
- Blum, Howard; Connolly, John (March 2004). The Pellicano Brief. p. 222. Archived from the original on 2006-02-09.
- Krikorian, Greg (2006-02-05). "Music Figure Held in Pellicano Case". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2010-12-21. Retrieved 2006-09-11.
- The Statesman Archived September 29, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- Showbiz - News - FBI quiz Kidman in wire-tap probe - Digital Spy Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
- Shprintz, Janet (2003-11-18). "Stallone is queried in sleuth case". Variety. Archived from the original on 2010-12-21. Retrieved 2006-10-17.
- Cruz, Gilbert (December 14, 2008). "Anthony Pellicano". Time. Archived from the original on 2010-12-21.
- "Lawyer Files Suit Over Alleged Wiretapping". Los Angeles Times. 2006-08-10. Archived from the original on October 24, 2007. Retrieved 2006-09-11.
- Halbfinger, David M. (2006-04-20). "Billionaire Reports a Shakedown in Hollywood". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-04-12.
- Halbfinger, David M. (2007-04-12). "Hollywood Evidence Raises Questions". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-04-12.
- 358 F3d 1327 United States v. B Aisenberg Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
- Halbfinger, David M. and Allison Hope Weiner (May 21, 2007). In Court Files, Hollywood’s Mr. Fix-It at Work. New York Times
- July 24, 2006, The New Yorker, "Hollywood Ending," by Ken Auletta
- June 2006 Vanity Fair; "Inside Hollywood's Big Wiretap Scandal," by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly Archived May 2, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- "May 10, 2006, ''New York Times''; "Hollywood Detective Accused of Ordering 'Hit' on Witness," by David M. Halbfinger". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-02-12.
- February 7, 2006, Los Angeles Times; "Lawyer to Celebrities Is Subject of Inquiry," by Robert W. Welkos Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
- February 6, 2006, Los Angeles Times; "Pellicano and Six Others Are Indicted," by Greg Krikorian and Andrew Blankstein Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
- "March 2004 ''Vanity Fair''; "The Pellicano Brief," by Howard Blum and John Connolly" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2006-02-09. Retrieved 2013-02-12.
- Comprehensive listing of more than three dozen 2006 Pellicano articles in The Los Angeles Times
- Anthony Pellicano at the Internet Movie Database
- "Deadline Hollywood," July 16, 2006, regarding The New Yorker's Auletta on the Pellicano Probe
- Announcement of forthcoming Pellicano biography by journalist John Connolly
- February 6, 2006, 60-page indictment against Pellicano and six others
- February 15, 2006, superseding indictment charging Pellicano attorney associate
- Copy of Busch's lawsuit against Pellicano on "The Smoking Gun"
- Details of Pellicano's campaign contribution to Bill Clinton
- Website with links to media articles on Pellicano matters
- Anthony Pellicano weblinks blog
- Private Investigators of the Stars
- Anthony Pellicano victims blog