Lawyer in wiretap case gets three years

Charges against Terry Christensen include conspiracy

Prominent entertainment attorney Terry Christensen's 42-year career ended Monday when he was sentenced to three years in a federal prison for conspiring to wiretap the ex-wife of his billionaire client and former MGM mogul Kirk Kerkorian.

Christensen was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wiretapping and aiding and abetting a wiretap for his role in working with convicted former Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano.

Christensen's attorney, Terree Bowers, argued for a lenient sentence, placing the blame on Pellicano and indicating that Christensen's involvement was a blemish on an otherwise stellar legal career.

Prosecutors countered that Christensen was intricately involved with the wiretaps and openly appreciative of the legal ammunition gleaned for the child support case.

U.S. District Court Judge Dale Fischer sided with the prosecution, ordering Christensen to the three-year prison term as well as three years probation and a $250,000 fine.

"Mr. Christensen has not taken responsibility for his actions, much less expressed remorse," she said. "If he is not punished for his egregious conduct, others will lose respect for the justice system as well."

Christensen remains free on a $100,000 bond pending an appeal.

Christensen's sentence resulted in him being stripped of his ability to practice law. The lawyer, who was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1966, was listed on the bar's Web site Monday as "not eligible to practice law."

As the longtime attorney for Kerkorian, Christensen hired Pellicano to investigate the billionaire's ex-wife, who sought an increase in child support payments. Kerkorian testified at trial he had no knowledge of the wiretapping.

Pellicano was also convicted for his role. He was also found guilty this year of wiretapping and racketeering and is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Prosecutors showed that Christensen hired Pellicano for $25,000 up front with a promise of another $100,000 if he was able to prove Kerkorian was not the father of Lisa Bonder Kerkorian's daughter. DNA tests later showed producer Steve Bing was the biological father.

The government's most damaging evidence against Christensen were recorded conversations between he and Pellicano discussing the private phone calls of Bonder Kerkorian.

In a letter to Fischer, he said he was remorseful for working with Pellicano.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.