Anthony Pellicano found guilty

Convicted of racketeering, conspiracy

Anthony Pellicano, the former celebrity private eye who set up shop on the Sunset Strip and boasted clients who were some of Hollywood's rich and powerful, was found guilty Thursday of racketeering, wiretapping and running a criminal enterprise.

Pellicano, who represented himself at trial and called just one witness, sat still and showed little emotion as Judge Dale Fischer read the jury's verdict, convicting him of all but one of the 77 counts against him. Sentencing is set for Sept. 24.

The jury found that Pellicano wiretapped a who's who of Hollywood, including CAA's Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane; Sylvester Stallone; Garry Shandling and his former girlfriend, actress Linda Doucett; Kevin Nealon and his wife at the time, Linda Nealon; producer Vincent "Bo" Zenga, his wife, Zorianna Kit, and brother, Jerome Zenga; Keith Carradine and his wife, Hayley Dumond; the late producer Aaron Russo, his sons, Max and Samuel, and his longtime girlfriend, Heidi Gregg; and Anita Busch, former editor of The Hollywood Reporter.

Busch, who was in court to hear the verdicts, said: "The full story of Pellicano's reach has yet to be told. To Pellicano and his wealthy clients, 'winning' meant obliterating someone's life and livelihood. They saw the media as just another weapon in their arsenal and used and abused it to go after anyone in their cross hairs."

Attorney Neville Johnson, who represents Russo's estate in a civil suit against Pellicano, added: "It's a big day. I'm not surprised. This is a great day for justice, and now the civil cases can proceed."

Johnson represents plaintiffs in five cases against Pellicano and others involved in his crimes and said there are more cases to come as a result of the criminal trial.

Each of the racketeering counts carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, while most of the other counts have five-year maximum sentences. He was acquitted of one count of unauthorized computer access.

Pellicano is due back in court July 15 to face trial on two additional charges of conspiracy and wiretapping with former client and attorney Terry Christensen.

Pellicano's wife, Kat Pellicano, was in the courtroom to hear the verdicts. After court was adjourned, she said she was "devastated."

Pellicano was hired by Hollywood power brokers, including Michael Ovitz, who asked the gumshoe to find the source of unflattering stories by Busch and New York Times reporter Bernard Weinraub about his doomed talent agency, Artists Management Group.

Busch testified at trial, giving some of its most dramatic and tragic testimony. Often crying uncontrollably, she talked about how she had feared for her life after finding a dead fish on her car's windshield and having a dark car practically run her down outside her apartment.

Paramount studio head Brad Grey hired Pellicano while he was still a talent manager, after Shandling filed suit against him over money.

Shandling testified that Grey was a Svengali of sorts, who kept his contract in lockdown, away from the comedian and his lawyers. Grey later testified and said those allegations were false.

Comedian Chris Rock testified how he hired Pellicano to investigate a woman who was trying to shake him down.

Co-defendants Mark Arneson, a former Los Angeles police sergeant, and former Pacific Bell employee Ray Turner also were convicted of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy. Arneson, guilty of all 46 counts against him, and Turner (17 counts) ran hundreds of records searches on subjects of Pellicano's investigations.

Kevin Kachikian, a software engineer, was found guilty of one count of creating a wiretapping program that Pellicano used to tap into phone calls, but he was acquitted on nine wiretapping counts. And former Pellicano client Abner Nicherie was found guilty of aiding and abetting a wiretap.

Outside the downtown federal courtroom, attorneys for Kachikian and Arneson said they believed the jury instructions were flawed and that they plan to appeal. Kachikian faces up to 10 years in prison.

The trial started March 5 and included often titillating and shocking testimony, including that Pellicano allegedly offered to kill someone for a Wall Street stockbroker and that billionaire Alec Gores hired the investigator to find out who was sleeping with his wife. It turned out to be Gores' brother.

Jury forewoman Terri Winbush said prosecutors did "an excellent job in presenting the evidence," which included dozens of recorded conversations Pellicano made with his clients.

Winbush, a principal with the Los Angeles Unified School District, said those recordings was "excellent" evidence and described the tawdry tales of the rich and famous to be "shocking."

"Personally, I felt (Pellicano) should have had someone represent him," she said.

"Justice was served," the jurist added. "People were lied to, and their identification and lives violated."