2:26pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Anthony Pellicano Fights Government Over Whether He Remains 'Danger' to Society
In late June, Anthony Pellicano got out of jail. No doubt this will come as surprising news to many in Hollywood who avidly followed the prosecution of the notorious private eye alleged to have worked on behalf of many of the town's most powerful figures in illegally tapping and harassing others in town.
On June 29, three days after the government opposed his bail, Pellicano was transported to a neurological clinic in Odessa, Texas. There, he was to receive treatment for a brain disorder known as blepharospasm, which causes the eyelids to involuntarily shut. Pellicano says he didn't receive the necessary medical attention but was soon returned to a federal penitary in Big Spring, Texas.
Now back in jail, Pellicano is fighting with prosecutors who hope to keep him locked up at least seven more years, at which time he will be 75 years old. The former Hollywood private eye was sentenced in 2008 to 15 years in prison for running a wiretapping enterprise.
Pellicano's lawyers now accuse government officials of lying when they say he's received full treatment for blepharospasm, a medical condition that is now said by Pellicano's attorneys to have caused their client to plead "no contest" to one of the crimes. And heading into a hearing this coming Monday that will decide whether Pellicano is freed from jail on early release, his attorneys are sparring with prosecutors over whether Pellicano still represents a "danger" to society.
Might Pellicano sell his "life story," raise money from those in Hollywood who remain loyal to him, and take care of unfinished business by getting even with witnesses in his case? The government seems to think so. Pellicano refutes that, saying he's broke and only wants to "spend the remaining life he has in peace."
In early June, Pellicano's attorneys filed formal papers seeking his early release on convictions of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, unlawful wiretapping and racketeering.
Soon after, the government filed lengthy opposition papers, which were soon sealed from the public. Why the confidentiality?
One possible answer could be that prosecutors aren't quite done taking action against all those who were involved in Pellicano's activities. Although the opposition papers were sealed, a big indication of what was in them has come from a reply that was offered earlier this week by Pellicano's own attorneys.
As recently as five weeks ago, prosecutors appear to have labeled Pellicano "dangerous" and have pointed to "threats" the former private eye has made against others, including Tarita Virtue, the ex-Pellicano employee who once transcribed wiretapped conversations, and Alex Proctor, a co-defendant who was alleged to have colluded to intimidate former Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch.
Pellicano's attorneys believe this is all a mere front to hide the government's dissatisfaction with Pellicano's refusal to provide evidence against alleged co-conspirators. The government's opposition papers are quoted as saying that prosecutors wanted Pellicano's “assistance in securing convictions against the full range of criminals . . . so that they all would be punished under the law," but that they weren't offering Pellicano a “get out of jail card."
The government's explanation is called "disingenuous" by Pellicano's team, who add, "As with the numerous cooperators in this case, if Mr. Pellicano had cooperated with his federal visitors he would not be in custody today."
Does Pellicano, who came into the government's sight after Busch found a dead fish on the hood of her car, represent an ongoing menace?
His attorneys say the Pellicano Investigative Agency has been out of existence since 2003, that he has "no clients, no assets, no 'connections' to any federal, state or local law enforcement agencies, or to any private companies which could be used by him in any fashion whatsoever."
But prosecutors have stated that there are wealthy individuals "whom likely remain loyal" to Pellicano, and that if the high-profile PI wanted to raise funds to flee, he could sell his "life story."
The reaction by Pellicano's attorneys? "The comment is utter nonsense and, frankly, shows the thinness of the government’s arguments for continued detention pending appeal," they say. "One response can be equally absurd, if he flees because he sold 'his story,' arrest him at the book signing!"
Pellicano's attorneys want California judge Dale Fischer to take mercy on their client. They point to his brain condition, which they say has been causing him trouble for years.
"Rather than endure the lack of treatment at the L.A. County Jail for another 4 months, Mr. Pellicano pled 'no contest'" to one of his alleged crimes, they say. Pellicano's attorneys say he needs more medical treatment to function normally and calls the government's word that Pellicano is getting appropriate treatment in jail to be "false."
Plus, Pellicano's attorneys try out some math.
"The Court at sentencing deemed that Mr. Pellicano was unlikely ever to commit another crime again when released," they say. "True, the Court’s finding was based in part because Mr. Pellicano would be 75 years at that time. However, if the Court’s finding was purely based on the amount of time served and his age, now in light of the fact that he served half of the Court’s sentence, is Mr. Pellicano to be considered half likely to commit another crime?"
For the record, Busch opposes bail. "If you’re dealing with a sociopath, which is what Mr. Pellicano is, you cannot predict his behavior,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
There will be quite a spectacle if Pellicano is indeed released from prison.
The judge will consider the arguments at a hearing scheduled for Monday at 8:30 AM, but no matter what happens, there will continue to be fallout from the Pellicano saga. Among the clients Pellicano has been connected to are studio heads Brad Grey and Ron Meyer, power broker Michael Ovitz, actors Elizabeth Taylor and Chris Rock, and billionaire former MGM owner Kirk Kerkorian.
Some of the lawsuits emanating from what happened are still live and active. For instance, in one ongoing case that the plaintiff's lawyer promises will have fireworks, powerful attorney Bert Fields and client Tom Cruise are being sued by Michael David Sapir, the former editor of Bold Magazine and a purported Pellicano victim. (That old case recently made news because it involved allegations, among other things, of taped recordings when Cruise and Nicole Kidman divorced.)
As for Pellicano himself, he gave this sworn statement about his flight and danger, speaking in the third person:
"Mr. Pellicano adamantly declares that there is no running in him. He simply would never think of running like a coward. He simply is not by evidence of his demeanor and character. If he wanted to opt out all he had to do is chose to testify and render cooperation to the prosecution as they had alluded to on numerous occasions. Those conversations are well known to the prosecution and if they truthfully related those conversations to the Court the Court would have a true understanding of what occurred and when.
“Mr. Pellicano is no runner. If he wanted to run, he would have ran many years ago. He chose to face the music and clearly did so. The government has used every effort to continue these proceedings which indicate to Mr. Pellicano that he will prevail.”
“Mr. Pellicano is simply not a danger to the community or flight risk and the prosecution knows this. He has not the means, nor desire to be anything but a good father, son and family member and to spend the remaining life he has in peace.”
E-mail: [email protected]; Twitter: @eriqgardner