Chris Rock testifies at Pellicano trial
EmptyA solemn Chris Rock testified Friday that he hired former private eye to the stars Anthony Pellicano to investigate a Hungarian model who had claimed the comedian was the father of her child.
When DNA tests later proved Rock was not the father, Pellicano stayed on the case because the woman, Monika Zsibrita, claimed he had sexually assaulted her during their "encounter."
Some jurors looked at each other, smiled and whispered a bit when Asst. U.S. Attorney Daniel Saunders announced the first witness of the day as Rock. The funny man walked into the courtroom with head half bowed, hands clasped behind his back and wearing a sharp, tailored black suit.
Asked to say and spell his name, Rock was uncharacteristically soft-spoken, prompting U.S. District Court Judge Dale Fischer to say, "Mr. Rock? Project. The back of the room needs to hear you," as she waved her arm out toward the courtroom from the bench.
Rock's testimony lasted about 12 minutes and was not as dramatic as some of the other witnesses who have taken the stand in the wiretapping and racketeering case against Pellicano and four others. His responses to questions from Saunders about Rock's involvement with Zsibrita and her allegations were mostly "yes" or "no."
Rock testified he could not remember how much he paid for Pellicano services back in 1999. He later said on cross-examination by defense attorney Chad Hummel, who represents co-defendant Mark Arneson, a former Los Angeles police sergeant, that he had no prior knowledge of Pellicano and relied on what his lawyers told him about the private eye.
Rock agreed with Hummel that Zsibrita was shaking him down. Asked to explain a shakedown, Rock said, "Someone who was not pregnant with my child claimed to be pregnant with my child and requested large sums of money."
He also testified he never saw any police report or was contacted by law enforcement in connection to the sexual assault allegations.
"I'm here as a free man," he said. "I didn't do anything.
"You know I didn't do anything wrong," he said to Hummel.
After his brief testimony, Rock quickly exited the courtroom and prosecutors played a short snippet of a telephone conversation Pellicano taped discussing the sexual assault allegations with Rock.
"I don't want to embarrass you," Pellicano warned Rock, before telling him of the claims.
Later, Alec Gores, brother to Paradigm's Sam Gores, testified he paid Pellicano $240,000 over the course of several months to investigate his then-wife, Lisa Gores, whom he suspected of cheating on him.
Gores told the jury he suspected that his wife was having an affair with his brother, Tom Gores, and Pellicano confirmed those suspicions. Gores later confronted his wife at a meeting with her and his two brothers.
Some time later, testified he had told his wife she had been wiretapped.
"I told her at onetime I had listened to conversations," he said.
Part of the hundreds of thousands Gores paid included a $50,000 loan to the private eye. He also testified he paid for a trip to Hawaii for the private eye and his family because Pellicano "was doing a good job."
When asked what he did for a living, Gores responded, "I buy companies."
Last September, Gores was ranked #317 on Forbes' list of top 400 finance billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion. His brother Tom was ranked 204.