Terry Christensen wiretapping trial begins

Attorney faces charges alongside Anthony Pellicano

Most of the players were the same, but the production was scaled back in the federal courtroom where opening statements took place Thursday in the wiretapping trial of former celebrity investigator Anthony Pellicano and veteran entertainment attorney Terry Christensen.

Pellicano already was found guilty on 78 charges ranging from running a criminal enterprise to wiretapping to possessing explosives; now he faces an additional charge of wiretapping and conspiracy to wiretap with former client Christensen.

Pellicano and Christensen worked together in 2002 when the attorney was representing his longtime client Kirk Kerkorian in a child-support dispute with the billionaire's ex-wife, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian.

Prosecutors say Christensen hired Pellicano to wiretap Bonder Kerkorian during the high-stakes case, which the attorney called "a war." Bonder Kerkorian wanted an increase in child support for then-4-year-old daughter Kira from $50,000 per month to $323,000 per month.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Lally told the jury of seven men and five women that the wiretap "would provide access to Lisa Bonder Kerkorian's legal strategy, access to her innermost thoughts, access to her private and privileged conversations."

Christensen's attorney, Patricia Glaser, a name partner in his firm, told jurors that his client hired Pellicano to find out who Kira's biological father was.

Bonder Kerkorian had insisted that the former MGM mogul -- who by the time of the child-support dispute was in his mid-80s -- is the father, but DNA tests later revealed that it was producer Steven Bing.

"Terry Christensen hired Mr. Pellicano to find Kira's true father and prove Lisa Bonder Kerkorian deceived him," Glaser said, adding that the evidence will show there is no proof that the ex-wife was wiretapped and if there were, Christensen didn't know about it.

The trial is expected to last four weeks. Kerkorian, Bonder Kerkorian and Bing are among the witnesses expected to testify.