Fields on sidelines as Pellicano case rolls on

Still not called to witness stand

Bert Fields sat for most of Wednesday in the cafeteria of the downtown federal courts building, waiting to be called as a witness in the government's wiretapping and racketeering case against Anthony Pellicano.

For the second day in a row, the veteran entertainment attorney was never called as a witness for Pellicano co-defendant Mark Arneson, a retired Los Angeles Police sergeant. Fields was supposed to testify Tuesday, but the trial was delayed and the jury sent home after Arneson's attorney made an emergency motion for mistrial, which was denied. Fields' name has been brought up several times during the trial because he often used Pellicano to assist on cases.

But Fields wasn't called again Wednesday, this time because Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Saunders spent most of the day in an aggressive cross-examination of Arneson, pushing to get the former cop to admit he changed his story many times to match the government's evidence.

Saunders also asked Arneson about his financial problems in 1998 and a bankruptcy petition filed the day before he faced foreclosure for his home in Palos Verdes, Calif. Arneson claims he was not the one who filed the bankruptcy petition and that the signature on the court papers was forged, despite letters he sent to financiers referencing the petition.

Saunders countered, asking if Arneson is denying the filing because it contained fraudulent information, like the occupation, listed as "private investor."

"I didn't file this bankruptcy," Arneson said over and over.

Saunders later asked, "Is this all just a big misunderstanding, sir? Or is this perjury?" Arneson's attorney, Chad Hummel objected, which Judge Dale Fischer sustained.

On redirect examination by Hummel, Arneson again admitted he illegally ran records searches on police computers, against LAPD policy.

"I am accepting responsibility for crossing over the line and using the department computers," he said. "My mind-set at the time was that I was trading one good for another. It was the wrong thing to do. I've had the opportunity to look at the audit and realize it was not worth it."

The trial resumes Friday.