Hollywood private eye Pellicano indicted on racketeering charges

Monday, February 6th 2006, 10:14 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Celebrity private eye Anthony Pellicano pleaded not guilty Monday to federal racketeering charges alleging he paid police officers and others to get into confidential records and provide him with information.

The indictment was unsealed Monday but not immediately released.

Attorney Steven Gruel, who represents Pellicano, said the indictment detailed 105 counts against his client. In addition to racketeering, he was charged with unauthorized computer access, interception of wire communications and possession of a wiretapping device.

Gruel briefly made a copy of the indictment available to The Associated Press. It said the private detective ``paid bribes to corrupt public officials.''

Officers with the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments accessed confidential records and provided information to Pellicano, the indictment said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen J. Hillman set an April 4 trial date.

Pellicano, 61, has worked for a galaxy of Hollywood stars, including Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Sylvester Stallone. High-profile lawyers and agents also have enlisted Pellicano's services.

Prosecutors haven't disclosed if any famous names might be tied to the investigation. Pellicano has said he would protect his clients' confidentiality.

Pellicano was released Friday from a federal prison after completing a 2 1/2-year sentence for possessing illegal weapons, prison spokeswoman Pam Jones said. He was transferred to San Bernardino County Jail.

``I think he was hoping to get out of jail and was ... annoyed with an indictment that coincides with his release from federal prison,'' Gruel said. ``It seems to be an odd coincidence.''

The investigation has led to some arrests. Sandra Carradine, 58, ex-wife of actor Keith Carradine, pleaded guilty to two counts of perjury. Former Beverly Hills police officer Craig Stevens, 45, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and four counts of unauthorized access of protected computers to commit fraud.

Both are scheduled to be sentenced later this year.

Robert Pfeifer, former president of Hollywood Records, also has been arrested in connection with the case, his attorney Leonard Sharenow said. Although charges against the 50-year-old music industry executive weren't immediately revealed, Sharenow said Pfeifer hired Pellicano in 2000 in a dispute with a former employer.

Sharenow said he and Pfeifer met with federal prosecutors in 2004 and ``thought we answered all their questions.''

Pellicano's troubles began in 2002 when, prosecutors claim, he hired Alexander Proctor to threaten Anita Busch, then a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, who was working on a story about actor Steven Seagal and possible links to the Mafia.

Proctor allegedly placed a dead fish with a rose in its mouth on Busch's car and made a bullet-sized hole in the windshield. He also left a sign with the word ``stop,'' court documents show.

Pellicano and Proctor each face one count of making criminal threats and one count of conspiracy but neither has entered a plea. Proctor is serving a 10-year prison term in Illinois on unrelated drug charges.