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Legal Ethics

PI-to-Stars Anthony Pellicano Guilty in Dirty-Tricks Litigation Case

Posted May 15, 2008 3:58 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Updated: Private eye Anthony Pellicano and four co-defendants were all found guilty today by a federal jury in Southern California in a racketeering, fraud and conspiracy case that had attracted worldwide media attention because of its star-studded witness lineup. It had also been watched with interest by the legal community because of the dirty-tricks tactics, including wiretapping, allegedly employed by Pellicano to get evidence for celebrity cases.

"The verdicts come after a six-year federal investigation and a nine-week trial that laid bare the ruthless side of the rich and famous, who thought nothing of having their adversaries and irritants investigated by an equally ruthless private eye," reports the Los Angeles Times. "Even after the trial, mysteries remained: How much did Pellicano really tell his clients and the lawyers who hired him about his illegal tactics?"

So far, however, only Pellicano, 64, and associates involved in the investigations have been convicted, rather than the celebrities, executives and lawyers who commissioned and paid for them, the newspaper notes. It isn't clear whether many of those who hired Pellicano knew he was using illegal tactics.

"Besides Mr. Pellicano, the best-known person to have been criminally charged is Terry Christensen, a successful Los Angeles attorney who has done extensive work for billionaire Kirk Kerkorian," reports the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.). "Mr. Christensen allegedly conspired with Mr. Pellicano to tap the telephone of Mr. Kerkorian's former wife. Mr. Kerkorian hasn't been charged. Mr. Christensen, who has pleaded not guilty, faces a separate trial expected to start in federal court here within about a month."

Celebrities and executives were also the subjects of Pellicano's investigations. Targets reportedly included actor Sylvester Stallone and comedian Garry Shandling.

There were a total of 77 charges against Pellicano, and the jury convicted on 76 of them, according to the New York Times.

"After about two weeks of deliberations, the jury found Mr. Pellicano guilty of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft, conspiracy to intercept or use wire communications and manufacture or possession of wiretapping device," the New York Times writes. "He was acquitted of a single count of unauthorized computer access."

He reportedly could face up to 10 years in prison at sentencing, which is scheduled for Sept. 24.

Additional coverage:

Wall Street Journal Law Blog: "Jury Finds PI Pellicano Guilty of Racketeering and Conspiracy"

ABAJournal.com: "Jury Mulls Whether Private Investigator Wiretapped Celebrities"

ABAJournal.com: "Dirty Tricks in Hollywood Lawsuits? Paramount Chair Testifies at PI’s Trial"

ABAJournal.com: "Hollywood Agog Over Names to be Named in Private Investigator’s Trial"

Updated at 7:55 p.m., central time, to include Wall Street Journal coverage.

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