'Detective to the Stars' Pellicano Indicted
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In Los Angeles, celebrity private eye Anthony Pellicano, pleaded not guilty today to federal charges of racketeering and conspiracy. Pellicano faces more then one hundred counts of illegally wiretapping and spying on some major stars. As NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, Hollywood observers wonder if some of Pellicano's clients may also be drawn into the prosecutor's net.
MANDALIT DEL BARCO reporting:
Before his arrest, Anthony Pellicano was known as the private eye to the stars, with high profile clients, including Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor. He's now facing multiple indictments, charging that he headed a criminal enterprise that listened in on the phone conversations of such actors as Sylvester Stallone and Keith Carradine. The 61-year old Hollywood detective denies that he used wiretaps or that he bribed former police officers to get confidential and embarrassing information on celebrities and news reporters.
Thom Mrozek is a spokesman for the U.S, Attorney's office. He says Pellicano was getting information to be used in civil lawsuits.
Mr. THOM MROZEK (U.S. Attorney's Office): People would hire him to obtain information about people involved in divorce proceedings or business litigation, getting criminal records that aren't available to the general public from the corrupt law enforcement officers, getting private phone records on celebrities and other people who, you know, have unlisted numbers and try to maintain their privacy.
DEL BARCO: And that has made many people in Hollywood very nervous, says Variety reporter, Janet Shprintz.
Ms. JANET SHPRINTZ (Variety): People are so anxious about it because Pellicano was employed by some major, major Hollywood lawyers. So the big question has been if Pellicano goes down, does he take his lawyer clients with him?
DEL BARCO: Pellicano's trouble with the law began nearly four years ago, when a former LA Times reporter investigating actor Steven Seagal, walked to her car one morning to discover a dead fish, a rose and a sign that read stop on the hood. An ex-convict told investigators Pellicano paid him to carry out the threat. And when FBI agents searched his West Hollywood offices, they found grenades and plastic explosives. Pellicano was just about to wrap up a 30-month sentence for storing explosives when the latest indictments came out.
Mandalit del Barco, NPR News, Los Angeles.