LOS ANGELES – One of the biggest scandals in the history of Hollywood history was met by a private investigator who used wiretaps to secretly collect the secrets of celebrities and titans of entertainment.
The case of Anthony Pellicano, "the private eye on the stars," captivated Hollywood for years and caused the fall of big names.
The case is now coming to an end as Pellicano was released Friday from the federal penitentiary institution of Terminal Island in San Pedro, after more than 10 years in prison.
According to detainees' records, Pellicano's release is scheduled for Saturday, but prisoners who should be released on a weekend are allowed to leave earlier, prison spokeswoman Monica Devore said.
He became a free man for his 75th birthday.
Prosecutors said Mr. Pellicano charged very painful information by listening to the most personal and intimate conversations of his interlocutors, often to give his rich and famous clients a competitive advantage.
He bribed police officers to give them names in law enforcement databases, and phone company officials to phone them, prosecutors said.
Pellicano's problems began in 2002, when a journalist who wrote negative articles about former Hollywood super-agent Michael Ovitz turned to the authorities after discovering a dead fish, a rose, and a note saying, "Stop you "in the broken windshield of his car.
The journalist Anita Busch, who is now editor-in-chief for the entertainment publication Deadline, told a judge that Pellicano's intimidation and wiretapping was tantamount to "death by a thousand cuts."
The investigation led the authorities to the Pellicano office, which quickly snowballed into an extensive investigation that would involve some of Hollywood's biggest celebrities.
According to the authorities, the sergeant of the Los Angeles Police Department. Mark Arneson and an employee of the telephone company helped Pellicano earn millions of dollars by obtaining information about former spouses, associates and opponents. According to one indictment, Pellicano paid Arneson at least $ 189,000.
Federal prosecutors obtained guilty pleas from seven Pellicano clients or co-conspirators, including "Die Hard" filmmaker John McTiernan; former director of a music company, Robert Pfeifer; Sandra Carradine, former wife of actor Keith Carradine; and Craig Stevens, a former Beverly Hills policeman.
In 2006, Pellicano served a 30-month prison sentence for possessing explosives. He was sentenced to another 15 years in December 2008. Pellicano tried to overturn his convictions, but he largely lost his legal battle.
He was also ordered to confiscate more than $ 2 million in revenue, which, according to prosecutors, "grossly underestimated" what his private investigation company had in fact amassed by illegal means.
A panel of three judges from the US Circuit's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the most serious convictions against Pellicano, reversing only two convictions, for aiding and abetting fraud and unauthorized access to a computer. The court stated that the trial judge had misdirected the jury on these counts.
After his release Friday, Pellicano must serve three more years of probation.
"He has served his time and I hope that he will decide to do something positive and productive with the rest of his life," Busch said Friday in a statement.
Nearly a dozen people – including Keith Carradine and the same actor Sylvester Stallone, film producer Vincent Bo Zenga and Busch, a former Los Angeles Times reporter – have been victims of telephone tapping between August 2000 and November 2002 the alleged case.
It was a threat against Busch in 2002 that led the FBI to search the Pellicano offices in the Sunset Strip and launch the wiretapping investigation.
In addition, authorities cited around 100 other cases in which Pellicano and a partner had access to confidential law enforcement documents, including the FBI database, to gather information about the law. Targets include comedian Garry Shandling, the former star of the Saturday Night Live show, Kevin Nealon. dozens of others.
Stallone, one of Pellicano's victims, could not be contacted immediately to comment on his release. Movie producer Zenga refused to be quoted.
John Bauer, director of Carradine, said by phone on Friday "I have nothing to say about it," and refused to connect a Los Angeles Times reporter to Carradine.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter last year with the Hollywood Reporter, Pellicano said, "I am an old man, and all my associates are in prison or dead. The old days are gone forever. "
(Times writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.)
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