'Die Hard' Director John McTiernan Headed to Prison After Supreme Court Denies Appeal
UPDATED: The filmmaker will serve a one-year sentence and pay a fine for making false statements to the FBI during its investigation into Anthony Pellicano.
John McTiernan, who directed such hit movies as Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October, will likely soon be headed to federal prison in connection with his role in the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping scandal.
McTiernan was sentenced in late 2010 to one year in prison and a fine of $100,000 after pleading guilty to making false statements to the FBI in its investigation into the activities of Pellicano, the former Hollywood private detective who already is behind bars.
McTiernan’s request to reverse his guilty plea was declined Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court. His appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had been rejected in August. He had sought to suppress a digital recording where he discussed the use of an illegal wiretap by Pellicano, whom he had hired to investigate producer Chuck Roven.
That appeal was denied, but he was given a stay from prison until the Supreme Court could consider his case. Now that the high court has denied the appeal, he'll soon head be incarcerated. After serving his time, McTiernan will continue to be under a supervised release for three years.
McTiernan attorney Charles Sevilla of San Diego did not respond to a request for comment. In 2002, when the illegal wiretap was used, McTiernan was working on the remake of Rollerball, which Roven was producing.
Another attorney for McTiernan says there is a chance that there will be further delays. He says there is still a motion before the judge to reduce or eliminate McTiernan's sentence on the grounds that there has never been any proof presented that Pellicano actually wiretapped Roven. In a filing to the judge, a former McTiernan assistant declares that to her knowlege Roven was neveractually wiretapped.
However, the charge that McTiernan is guilty of is that he lied to the FBI. His defense hopes that the judge will see that only happened because he was falsely accused. Up to now the judge has not been sympathetic to such defense motions but they remain hopeful this will lead to more discovery, evidence hearings and possibly more appeals.
When he was first interviewed by authoritie about seven years ago,, McTiernan insisted his involvement with Pellicano was very limited. Later, when confronted with a recording that showed he hired the private eye, the director agreed to plead guilty.
McTiernan later hired new lawyers and worked to withdraw his guilty plea and suppress certain evidence. On his initial appeal to the federal court, the judges ruled he had gotten bad legal advice from his first lawyer and allowed him to withdraw his plea.
The filmmaker was indicted again, and after his renewed efforts to suppress the evidence failed, he entered another guilty plea.
An appeals court also rejected McTiernan’s argument that U.S. District Court Judge Dale Fischer should have recused herself after she allegedly made hostile comments toward him in court as she repeatedly denied his request to suppress the tapes.
Now the director-producer -- whose helming credits also include Predator, Last Action Hero and Basic -- again must appear before Fischer, who is expected to order him to report for incarceration. If the judge does not rule in McTiernan's favor on his remaining motiions, the final step could take a few weeks or a couple months, according to legal sources.