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The private eye—known for his famous clients—hit headlines for his dramatic scandals better played out in a movie: a “bat cave” full of wiretapping equipment, a threat to an investigative journalist via a dead fish on her car windshield, a safe full of $200,000 cash. He has reportedly done investigative work for Michael Jackson, Tom Cruise, Yoko Ono, Sylvester Stallone and dozens more, but it was his mafia-esque methods that landed him in prison for 15 years.
In his first sit-down interview since he was found guilty on 78 counts in 2008, Pellicano spoke to Newsweek at the Big Spring Federal Correctional Institution in the small town of Big Spring, Texas.
Self-described as tight-lipped, Pellicano name-dropped several celebrity clients and revealed quite a few interesting tidbits. Here are the highlights:
1. On his wiretapping skills compared to that of News of the World’s investigators: “I was way ahead of my time,” he tells Newsweek. “If Murdoch’s name wasn’t involved, would there be a story? If someone wiretapped Britney Spears, no one would care. The story is, did Murdoch know people were doing this? Did he condone it? I strongly believe he had no idea.”
2. Pellicano didn’t rat out any of his high-profile clients to the FBI, and he reasons this is why he received his high sentence. “Up until the day of trial, [federal prosecutors] tried to get me to talk,” he says. But he still insists that none of his clients knew about his wiretapping. “It was either I talked or go to jail and accept it like a man,” he says. “I could have gone to the Clintons [Pellicano was reportedly hired to investigate Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers] and senators and asked them for a favor. I am not going to ask them for a favor. You take your lumps and go on with your life the best way you can.”
3. Details on his former alleged client, Arnold Schwarzenegger: “[The FBI raided] my business…I have personal stuff on Arnold…If they found that stuff, he never would have been governor.” He didn’t elaborate or say whether that personal information had anything to do with Schwarzenegger’s love child with his maid: “I can’t say one way or another if I knew it,” he says.
4. He revealed why he allegedly dropped Michael Jackson as a client, who hired him to investigate one of the families accusing him in his 2003 child molestation case. He detailed that he told Jackson he would only work for him if he wasn’t guilty. “I said, ‘You don’t have to worry about cops or lawyers. If I find out anything, I will f–k you over. … I quit because I found out some truths…He did something far worse to young boys than molest them.” Pellicano did not elaborate.
5. He says he cannot pen his autobiography he claims he has received several offers to write, primarily due to his prison dorm-style living quarters in Big Spring. “Imagine trying to write a story with 100 guys around you,” he says. “There is nowhere to go for quiet.”
Pellicano is currently appealing his conviction and, if successful, could be released as early as 2013. In his appeal, he accuses the government of misconduct, misrepresentation and violating the constitution (he asserts that the FBI’s search of his office was illegal).
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