Pellicano says he rejected plea deals

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Imprisoned private investigator Anthony Pellicano said Wednesday he rejected numerous attempts by federal prosecutors to negotiate a plea bargain in his Hollywood wiretap case because he didn't want to break the trust of celebrities, lawyers and other former clients.

"At least 10 times in this case I've been offered a plea bargain. It's not going to happen," Pellicano told The Associated Press in a phone interview from federal prison.

Pellicano said he intended to remain silent, even though he said Hollywood is infested with "great white sharks" who don't play by the rules and constantly lie to get what they want.

Pellicano, 62, has pleaded not guilty to racketeering and wiretapping charges and is scheduled for trial next year.

He is the accused ringleader of a wiretapping scheme used to get dirt to aid clients in legal disputes. Prosecutors said Pellicano enlisted the aid of law enforcement and phone company employees by bribing them to collect information.

Scant details of the operation have been released. But prosecutors contend Pellicano illegally wiretapped Sylvester Stallone and had police officers run the names of more than 60 people, including comedians Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon, through government databases.

Federal prosecutors said months ago that at least one more indictment was coming. But no new defendants have been named since "Die Hard" director John McTiernan was charged in early April. He has pleaded guilty to making false statements to an FBI agent and is awaiting sentencing.

Pellicano claimed the 112-count indictment brought against him and six other defendants was the work of an "overzealous" prosecutor.

"I don't think the government wants me badly, it's the prosecutor," Pellicano said. "Perhaps this prosecutor thought this would be a stepping stone to make him popular, get a feather in his cap."

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Saunders, declined to comment.

Pellicano said encrypted audio files taken from his office during FBI raids won't lead to charges against any Hollywood power players.

The tapes "will do nobody any good to learn about my family life and my client life," he said.

Fourteen people have been charged in the case, with six pleading guilty to a variety of charges, including conspiracy and wire fraud. Charges are still pending against Pellicano and six others. One former SBC employee was acquitted by a jury last month.

Federal authorities also have questioned prominent entertainment attorney Bert Fields and studio bosses Brad Grey of Paramount Pictures and Ron Meyer of Universal Studios about their connections to Pellicano. All three denied wrongdoing.

Pellicano built his career by working for a galaxy of Hollywood stars. He found the remains of Elizabeth Taylor's third husband after they were stolen from a cemetery in a case that brought him widespread acclaim. He also worked for Michael Jackson when the pop singer was first accused of molesting a boy in 1993.

The federal government once relied on his expertise as an audio forensics specialist in several major trials, including the 1963 killing of four black girls in the bombing of a Baptist church in Birmingham, Ala.

Pellicano called that case the "shining moment" in his career.

He said people often accept plea bargains to save themselves.

"I won't be a rat for anyone no matter what the consequence is to me," Pellicano said. "If I spend the rest of my life in prison, so be it."
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