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A federal judge has denied bail to incarcerated former Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano.
Lawyers for the imprisoned sleuth had argued that a medical condition and advancing age rendered Pellicano nonthreatening, and they noted several other figures convicted in the wiretapping scandal had been set free pending appeals. The hearing followed court papers filed in June.
During the hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Dale Fischer asked if there were any victims in the courtroom.
Anita Busch, the former Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter journalist whose reports of threats including a dead fish on the windshield of her car set in motion one of Hollywood’s most salacious trials, raised her hand.
“I wasn’t planning to talk,” Busch tells THR, “but when the judge asked if I would like to speak, I said yes.”
Busch, who appeared frail, called Pellicano a “domestic terrorist” and made clear she that she remains scared of him. She recounted how her journalism career has been destroyed by the case, her health has been affected and she remains concerned for her safety if he is released.
Says Busch, “One thing the judge said — which was very wise, I thought — is that [Pellicano attorney Steven] Gruel kept saying he wasn’t violent, that he wasn’t a threat to society, and the judge said there are many threats to society without doing violence.
“The first thing I said in court,” she continues, “is that Pellicano is relentless in abusing the court system, just as he was in abusing the victims, because that is the truth.
“Here is Gruel saying he is not violent,” adds Busch. “Wait a second. This is a guy who hired somebody to blow up my car, who hired a couple of thugs to try and run me down on the street. You have no idea what I’ve been through with these people. Of course they are violent. All he needs is a paycheck and he will do it again.”
Kevin Lally, the assistant U.S Attorney in Los Angeles and deputy chief of the Violent and Organized Crime Section was in court for the prosecution. “The judge stated that [Pellicano] had not met his burden, which was obviously our position as well,” he tells THR. “Once you are convicted, there is a presumption in favor of detention. The defendant has to show by clear and convincing evidence that he’s neither a risk of flight or a danger to the community. … It was our position that the facts were such he could not overcome the presumption of either element.”
In his presentation, Lally linked Pellicano to a Chicago organized crime figure, Joseph “Jerry” Scalise, a connection the government had raised during Pellicano’s sentencing. Lally says that Pellicano was in touch with Scalise, “as it related to his efforts to get at Alexander Proctor, who was in prison at the time. We cited that as another basis for charging obstruction of justice. Subsequent to that, Scalise had been convicted of racketeering in relation to activities with the Chicago outfit. I’m not saying Pellicano was involved in that. I was just showing the association between the two as well as lending credence to what we thought was happening.”
Separately, about a month ago, bond was denied for Ray Turner, a former telephone company employee who did work for Pellicano and also was convicted on RICO charges. His request for bail was denied for a second time by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Pellicano’s lawyers have accused government officials of lying when they say he has received full treatment for blepharospasm, a medical condition that causes his eyelids to involuntarily shut. The 68-year-old Pellicano faces seven more years in prison. He is expected to appeal today’s decision.
Eriq Gardner contributed to this report.
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