Anthony Pellicano, private detective for the rich and famous, is currently on trial in Hollywood. He’s charged with wiretapping and racketeering.
As the legal proceedings move forward, they’re causing a lot of anxiety among stars, executives, and even politicians.
The U.S. attorney’s office witness list looks like a red carpet roster.
Celebrities who may have to head to court and raise their right hands include Sylvester Stallone, Chris Rock, Garry Shandling, Farrah Fawcett and Keith Carradine. Top and former execs from Universal, Disney and Paramount may also make the prosecution’s roll call.
Pellicano’s personal client list was star-studded. In addition to the above-named celebs, it included Elizabeth Taylor, Kevin Costner, Roseanne Barr, Michael Jackson, and O.J. Simpson.
But curiously, Pellicano’s most famous client is being largely overlooked by the mainstream press; and that would be none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton.
This is the same mainstream press that were accused by the Hillary campaign, and "SNL" jokesters, of being hard on Clinton and soft on fellow Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama.
Federal prosecutor Kevin Lally started off the trial by telling jury members Pellicano had masterminded a criminal enterprise, which discredited and attempted to destroy rivals of his famed clients.
It turns out that Pellicano was the audio “expert” who discredited Gennifer Flowers’ tape recordings so that the press could do what they desired at the time — disregard the voice of a certain former governor of Arkansas as he engaged in unseemly conversation with Flowers and disparaged Mario's Cuomo's Italian heritage and reputation.
That’s right, in 1992, in a bid to discredit, among other things, Flowers' audio recordings of conversations with William Jefferson Clinton, Pellicano was hired by Bill and Hill.
Stories of Pellicano’s dubious tactics abound. One involves a Los Angeles Times reporter named Anita Busch.
Busch had been investigating a story of an actor’s dispute with some Mafia types. She approached her car on a sunny morning in June 2002 to find a dead fish with a long-stemmed rose in its mouth on the car’s hood. A sign taped to her windshield contained a single word, “Stop.”
Terrified that she was the target of a hit, Busch hid in numerous hotels while the police and FBI investigated the matter.
Ex-convict Alexander Proctor admitted to the feds that he had been hired by a private detective to threaten and intimidate Busch. The detective was Anthony Pellicano.
In November 2002, FBI agents raided Pellicano's West Hollywood office. They found a surprising collection of contraband that included $200,000 in cash (most of it bundled in $10,000 wrappers), thousands of pages of transcripts of illegal wiretaps, two handguns, explosive devices, two hand grenades and enough C4 plastic explosive to blow up a car.
Pellicano is the same guy who years ago bragged of his prowess in dirty dealings to GQ magazine. He recounted beating one of his client's enemies with a baseball bat.
“I'm an expert with a knife,” the detective boasted. “I can shred your face with a knife.”
James Hirsen is a media analyst, Trinity Law School professor and teacher of mass media law at Biola University.
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