Prosecution rests in Pellicano trial

Described the defendant as a 'well-paid thug'

Anthony Pellicano was a "well-paid thug" and ringmaster of a criminal enterprise who was hired to threaten, intimidate and harass foes of his clients, a federal prosecutor told jurors Tuesday in closing arguments in the Hollywood wiretapping trial.

Asst. U.S. Atty. Dan Saunders carefully laid out for jurors the evidence presented over the last eight weeks, connecting the dots on dates and times of illegal records searches and alleged harassment by the former Hollywood celebrity sleuth and his co-defendants.

Jurors were taken "inside a thoroughly corrupt criminal organization that disguised itself as a legitimate investigative agency." So well disguised, Saunders said, that Pellicano did work for law enforcement.

But the Pellicano Investigative Agency was in fact, "a criminal organization operated by a very well-connected and very well-paid thug," Saunders said.

Pellicano, who is representing himself, faces 77 charges of wiretapping and racketeering. Some of those charges were filed against co-defendant Mark Arneson, a retired Los Angeles Police sergeant, and retired phone company supervisor Ray Turner. All three are accused of running a criminal enterprise that included running illegal searches on police and phone company computers to dig up dirt.

Saunders reminded jurors that the victims, including comedian Garry Shandling, former Hollywood Reporter editor Anita Busch, producers Bo Zenga and Aaron Russo, did nothing wrong, other than get into a dispute with Pellicano clients.

The harassment by Pellicano included, "a severed rat head in the mailbox, a dead fish thrown on a car windshield. Tires got slashed, computers got hacked, houses got broken into," Saunders told the jury. "And, of course, they got wiretapped."

Two other co-defendants are accused of being involved in Pellicano's wiretapping scheme, including software engineer Kevin Kachikian, who developed a wiretapping computer program, and Abner Nicherie, a former client who allegedly translated illegally recorded phone conversations that were spoken in Hebrew.

The defense will present their closing arguments beginning Wednesday.