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Anthony Joseph Pellicano turned 75 on Friday — and now he will be a free man for the first time in 15 years on Saturday.
The notorious Hollywood fixer will be released from Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution in San Pedro, California, where he has spent more than a decade behind bars after being convicted on 78 counts of wiretapping and racketeering, among other charges.
In his heyday, the ruthless former private eye (prison No. 21568-112) was a tremendous asset to the rich and famous. His clientele included the likes of the late Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone, Roseanne Barr, Courtney Love, CAA co-founder Michael Ovitz and many more.
He made a name for himself with his initial practice in Chicago, and also by defending the late auto executive John DeLorean, who was brought up on cocaine distribution charges in 1982. (DeLorean’s life is the focus of an upcoming film, Framing John DeLorean, starring Alec Baldwin as the innovative, but deeply flawed inventor who died in 2005.)
At the height of his dealings in Tinseltown, Pellicano was hired by Michael Jackson (through lawyers) after the late pop superstar was first accused of child molestation in 1993. And with renewed interest in the Jackson scandal thanks to the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, the former private eye may get yet another offer for a hefty payday. Why? He seems to know a lot; far more disturbing details than what has been reported, which is why he “fired” Jackson, he told The Hollywood Reporter in a jailhouse interview last year.
“I was offered $500,000 to tell the whole story by a tabloid, and I declined, even though, while incarcerated, I needed the money,” he told THR. He declined to answer any other questions regarding the Jackson saga. “All of that would get too close to the truth, so, regretfully, I have to decline,” he said then.
When Pellicano was the man to go to for cover or salacious dirt, the PI charged a nonrefundable retainer of $25,000 on top of added fees (which could reach hundreds of thousands of dollars) and, of course, expenses.
Among those who testified during Pellicano’s trial (he represented himself) was the former Paramount chief, the late Brad Grey. “He often told me that he, and others, were so glad that there was someone like me to go to,” he told THR of Grey, who died of cancer in May 2017. “They needed someone like me, someone who would take up the battle for them, who would do what needed to be done to prevail.”
Despite his vast knowledge of Hollywood elite’s darkest secrets, Pellicano refused in 2018 to spill any information (“omerta” is the vow of loyalty he took to clients), which even included who was the owner of the C-4 and two grenades found his in office when the FBI raided the Sunset Boulevard location in November 2002.
“I got convicted of committing crimes I did not commit,” he told THR then. “I had to listen to testimony of those who got up on the stand and lied. I changed a lot of lives for the better, helped a whole lot of people who were all grateful at the time. That’s what I kept in mind as I took all the heat — alone. As things got troublesome for me, they all took off for the hills.”
As for getting back into the business, Pellicano did not rule it out. In fact, it may be easier than ever with seemingly everyone more exposed by offering so much information on social media, a tool he did not have at his disposal.
“Were I tempted to engage in any type of investigative business, I would find it easier, especially the business of ‘data mining,’ which I was way ahead of the pack in doing long before the government caught on,” Pellicano said last year. “When I finally walk out the door, free except for the supervised release process of three years, then I may take a look at what I can do … or not.”
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