Pellicano trial opens


When federal authorities began looking into private investigator Anthony Pellicano six years ago, many in Hollywood held their breath. Now as opening statements begin Thursday in a downtown Los Angeles federal courthouse in the wiretapping and racketeering case against the former celebrity sleuth, a few more gasps are likely. And given the potential witness list, a few more bombshells may be dropped.

Pellicano was the go-to guy when the rich and powerful -- including top industry executives and A-list clients -- needed to dig up dirt on someone. As prosecutors and law enforcement started sniffing around, it looked like the case against him would end up being a case against Hollywood.

So far, that hasn't happened. Instead, only a handful of those connected to Hollywood have been prosecuted because of their ties to Pellicano: former Hollywood Records president Robert Pfeifer and "Die Hard" director John McTiernan. Both pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about their knowledge of Pellicano's wiretapping abilities but have yet to serve time in federal prison. McTiernan is appealing his guilty plea.

That's not to say Pellicano's relationship with Hollywood and his clients -- which included Brad Grey, Michael Ovitz, uber entertainment attorney Bert Fields and billionaire Kirk Kerkorian -- won't be front and center in the trial, which began Wednesday with jury selection.

"It kind of frizzled a little bit from that perspective," Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson said of the Hollywood connection. "But we could still learn a bit from trial."

The government casts Pellicano as a gumshoe who built a facade as a legitimate private investigator. But beneath the surface, he allegedly ran a racket that included employing a police detective, phone employees and others to provide him with confidential information.

Pellicano and four co-defendants -- who include a former Los Angeles police detective, two phone company employees and a former client -- are accused of wiretapping and illegally accessing the information of more than 100 people, including actor Keith Carradine, late producer Aaron Russo, producer Vincent "Bo" Zenga and former Hollywood Reporter editor and subsequent Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch.

It was a bizarre threat against Busch -- something straight out of a low-budget Mafia flick -- that launched the investigation into Pellicano.

Busch awoke one morning to find her car window smashed, a dead fish with a rose in its mouth and a note reading "Stop."

Federal investigators eventually linked Busch to Pellicano and his client Ovitz, who had been the subject of stories by Busch and New York Times writer Bernard Weinraub. The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges that after discussing with Ovitz people who were "the source of bad press against Ovitz," Pellicano hired Mark Arneson, who at the time was an LAPD detective, to do records searches of Busch and Weinraub, and recruited a telephone company employee to run Busch through databases.

Ovitz, who was called as a grand jury witness, has denied any knowledge of alleged wiretapping or illegal background checks detailed in the government's indictment.

The incident with Busch opened a can of worms for the government, who spent the next four years investigating Pellicano and his industry ties, before handing down an indictment against him in 2006.

Entertainment attorney Terry Christensen, whose clients include Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment, MGM and Paramount Pictures, later was added to the indictment. He was accused of conspiring with Pellicano to wiretap Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, the ex-wife of Kirk Kerkorian; the pair were embattled in a custody dispute. Last month, Judge Dale Fischer, who is presiding over the trial, ruled that Christensen will be tried separately from Pellicano and the others. Christensen has denied the allegations.

Ovitz is among the 127 potential witnesses that the government could call during the trial. The list also includes Grey, Carradine, Fields, Zenga, Ronald Meyer, Chris Rock, Garry Shandling, Sylvester Stallone, celebrity divorce lawyer Dennis Wasser and Farrah Fawcett.

Grey's attorneys allegedly hired Pellicano to investigate Zenga, who had sued Grey for breach of contract and fraud. Grey has denied any knowledge of Pellicano's activities and has never been charged with a crime. Carradine allegedly was a target of a Pellicano investigation, hired by the actor's ex-wife, Sandra Carradine, during their divorce proceedings. She has since pleaded guilty to perjury for lying about the wiretaps during her grand jury testimony.

But despite titillating evidence that has been uncovered -- for example, the DMV and criminal history checks allegedly done by Arneson on CAA managing partners Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane -- Levenson predicts that the trial will be "deliciously unpredictable." That Pellicano fired his attorneys and is representing himself at trial also is likely to add to the excitement.

"It's what is making people out there nervous. If there is one person who knows all the dirty secrets, it's Anthony Pellicano, and he's unleashed. He's representing himself," Levenson said.

Following is a complete list of witnesses the U.S. attorney's office intends to call:

1. Pedro Tenoch Aguilar
2. Thomas Ashley
3. R.T. Ballard III
4. Heidi Binford
5. Laura Buddine
6. Diane Burns
7. Anita Busch
8. Richard Campau
9. Sandra Carradine
10. Keith Carradine
11. Ricardo Cestero
12. Wayne Chen
13. Patrick Coffin
14. Kissandra Cohen
15. Mark Cohn
16. Stephen Corso
17. Jill Cossman
18. Daniel Davis
19. Frederick DeMann
20. Pilar DeMann
21. Jane Doe #2
22. Jane Doe #8
23. Linda Doucett
24. Gregory Dovel
25. Jeffrey Edwards
26. Robert Ellis
27. Elizabeth Eurich
28. Farrah Fawcett
29. Bertram Fields
30. Erin Finn
31. Giuseppe Franco
32. David Freihon
33. Alec Gores
34. Lisa Gores
35. Tom Gores
36. Michael Grace
37. Jude Green
38. Heidi Gregg
39. Brad Grey
40. Kenneth Hart
41. Teresa Henry
42. Suzan Hughes
43. Jim Humphrey
44. Kevin Huvane
45. William Isaacson
46. Stacy Joiner
47. George Kalta
48. Lisa Bonder Kerkorian
49. Karla Kerlin
50. Peter Knecht
51. Steven Kolodny
52. John LaViolette
53. Lily LeMasters
54. Helen Lim
55. David Lopes
56. Bryan Lourd
57. Charles Lull
58. Corrie Lyle
59. Susan Maguire
60. Michele Malkin
61. Daric Manser
62. Richard Marconi
63. Martin Marcus
64. John McTiernan
65. Aaron Mestman
66. Andrea Metz
67. Ron Meyer
68. Lisanne Mielke
69. Pamela Miller
70. Patti Millett
71. Debra Montoya
72. Laura Moreno
73. David Moriarty
74. Peter Morton
75. Jonathan Mosser
76. George Mueller
77. James Nielsen
78. Hector Nieves
79. Michael Ovitz
80. Christopher Pair
81. Gaye Lynn Palazzo
82. Michael Pearce
83. Kathy Pellicano
84. Robert Pfeifer
85. Alicia Pinedo
86. Deanne Reuter
87. Wayne Reynolds
88. Elizabeth Rios
89. Chris Rock
90. William Rose
91. Michael Rosen
92. Charles Roven
93. Maxwell Russo
94. Samuel Russo
95. Laura Sanchez
96. Steven Schuman
97. Adam Sender
98. Dara Sewell
99. Ami Shafrir
100. Sarit Shafrir
101. Garry Shandling
102. Charles Shephard
103. Victor Sherman
104. Clifford Shillingford
105. Debra Simon
106. Darcy Snodgrass
107. David Snyder
108. Sylvester Stallone
109. Kenneth Starr
110. Andrew Stevens
111. Craig Stevens
112. Kevin Templeton
113. Patrick Theohar
114. Stuart Turner
115. Tarita Virtue
116. Denise Ward
117. Ryan Warren
118. Dennis Wasser
119. Rick Webb
120. Alan Weil
121. Bernard Weinraub
122. Julie Westby
123. Matt Williams
124. Teresa Wright
125. Vincent "Bo" Zenga
126. Monika Zsibrita
127. Timea Zsibrita