Judge up­holds 15-year term for Pel­li­cano

For­mer celebrity pri­vate eye had faced re­sen­tenc­ing be­cause of a tech­ni­cal er­ror.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Meg Bern­hard

A U.S. district judge Mon­day up­held the 15-year prison sen­tence of for­mer celebrity pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor An­thony Pel­li­cano, who was charged with il­le­gal wire­tap­ping and run­ning a crim­i­nal en­ter­prise.

Pel­li­cano faced re­sen- tenc­ing be­cause of a tech­ni­cal er­ror dur­ing his orig­i­nal 2008 trial, when the judge gave er­ro­neous jury in­struc­tions for charges of aid­ing and abet­ting com­puter fraud and unau­tho­rized com­puter ac­cess.

The U.S. 9th Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals va­cated those two charges in 2015 and or­dered a re­sen­tenc­ing. But the ap­pel­late court up­held more se­ri­ous charges against Pel­li­cano for run­ning a crim­i­nal en­ter­prise that il­le­gally ob­tained po­lice records and wire­tapped celebri­ties so his clients could out­ma­neu­ver them in lit­i­ga­tion.

At Mon­day’s hear­ing, U.S. District Judge Dale Fis­cher called the 15-year pun­ish­ment “rea­son­able and suf­fi­cient,” rul­ing that the va­cated counts had a mar­ginal ef­fect on the orig­i­nal sen­tence.

Pel­li­cano ap­peared at the hear­ing via a video con­fer­ence from the Ter­mi­nal Is­land cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity in San Pe­dro, where he is in­car­cer­ated, be­cause he feared los­ing his jail cell. He is ex­pected to be re­leased in March 2019. Pel­li­cano must also un­dergo three years of su­per­vi­sion af­ter his re­lease.

Sit­ting at a ta­ble with a guard seated be­hind him, Pel­li­cano, who did not re­quest his own at­tor­ney, was quiet dur­ing the hear­ing, speak­ing only to ad­dress the judge with af­fir­ma­tive “yes, ma’ams” when asked pro­ce­dural ques­tions.

Af­ter receiving his sen­tence, Pel­li­cano said he

would take no fur­ther ac­tion in court. “I have no in­ten­tion of ap­peal­ing any­thing,” he said.

As­sis­tant U.S. Atty. Kevin Lally said the sen­tence was what pros­e­cu­tors had sought. Dur­ing his re­marks, Lally ac­cused Pel­li­cano of sub­vert­ing pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions by ob­tain­ing con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion through his rack­e­teer­ing en­ter­prise.

Pel­li­cano was orig­i­nally con­victed in 2008, af­ter a widely watched trial gave a glimpse into the in­ner work­ings of Hol­ly­wood feuds.

Pros­e­cu­tors said Pel­li­cano bribed po­lice of­fi­cers to search law en­force­ment data­bases and phone com­pa­nies to wire­tap his clients’ op­po­nents and lis­ten to their most in­ti­mate con­ver­sa­tions. Ac­cord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors, Pel­li­cano’s rates for the con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion were ex­pen­sive.

His clients in­cluded big­name celebri­ties and busi­ness­men.

At the hear­ing, two of Pel­li­cano’s vic­tims, Jude Green and for­mer Los An­ge­les Times re­porter Anita Busch, im­plored the judge to up­hold his 15-year sen­tence.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Pel­li­cano be­gan in 2002, when Busch’s car was van­dal­ized in an al­leged at­tempt to in­tim­i­date her into not pur­su­ing sto­ries about for­mer Hol­ly­wood su­per agent Michael Ovitz. Her wind­shield was bro­ken and a dead fish and a rose were found in­side the car, along with a sign that read “STOP.”

“He needs to stay in prison,” said Green, whom Pel­li­cano’s agency spied on and threat­ened dur­ing a bit­ter di­vorce with her mul­ti­mil­lion­aire hus­band, Leonard Green, in 2001, ac­cord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors.

When she spoke, Pel­li­cano lifted his sunglasses and leaned for­ward, then raised his arms and turned to the guard be­hind him to ask her iden­tity.

Af­ter the hear­ing, Green said she still feared Pel­li­cano could re­tal­i­ate and that she had taken a risk in com­ing to the fed­eral court­house in Los An­ge­les, de­spite her sons urg­ing that she stay away.

But Busch, whom Green had not met be­fore Mon­day, said she per­suaded her to at­tend, and the two drove to court to­gether shar­ing sto­ries of their ex­pe­ri­ence with Pel­li­cano and how the pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor had re­shaped their lives.

In an in­ter­view, Busch said she lives in con­stant fear that Pel­li­cano still could re­tal­i­ate against her.

“It’s hard to live like this,” she said.

Brian van der Brug Los An­ge­les Times

AN­THONY PEL­LI­CANO, shown in 2003, was orig­i­nally con­victed in 2008 af­ter a widely watched trial.

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