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Anthony Pellicano

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Anthony Pellicano

"Pellicano" redirects here. For the detective-fiction writer, see George Pelecanos.

Anthony Pellicano (born March 22, 1944, Chicago, Illinois) is a former high-profile Los Angeles private investigator. He has served a term of thirty months in a federal prison for illegal possession of explosives, firearms and homemade grenades, and in 2008 began serving time in prison for subsequent convictions for crimes, including racketeering and wiretapping.


  • Summary 1
  • Private investigator "to the stars" 2
  • Illegal possession of dangerous materials, 2002 3
  • Indictment, 2006 4
    • Trial, 2008 4.1
    • Conviction and sentencing, 2008 4.2
  • Related investigations 5
    • Carradine and Stevens 5.1
    • Pfeifer 5.2
    • McTiernan 5.3
    • Wasser 5.4
    • Fields 5.5
    • Busch 5.6
    • Bonder and Kerkorian 5.7
    • Bing 5.8
    • Burkle 5.9
    • Weiner 5.10
    • Aisenberg 5.11
    • Spilotro 5.12
  • References 6
  • External links 7


On February 4, 2006, Pellicano was arrested for wiretapping and racketeering. On May 15, 2008, he and four others were found guilty of racketeering.[1] In August, 2008, Pellicano was convicted of wiretapping and conspiracy to commit wiretapping in the District Federal Court in Los Angeles.[2] In December, 2008, the court denied Pellicano's request for concurrent sentencing. Fifteen years were added to Pellicano's prison sentence and he was fined $2,000,000.[3] On August 7, 2011, Pellicano gave his first interview to Newsweek magazine.[4] On July 5, 2012, Pellicano's bail hearing was postponed due to poor health.[5] The following day Tom Cruise was accused of conspiring with Pellicano to create a wiretap during Cruise's divorce from Nicole Kidman.[6]

Private investigator "to the stars"

Prior to his first conviction, Pellicano was employed as a private investigator by Hollywood celebrities for a large retainer because of his reputation for solving their problems, particularly those problems with the tabloid press.

Illegal possession of dangerous materials, 2002

On November 21, 2002, FBI agents raided the offices of Pellicano. A threat had been made against film producer Julius R. Nasso, who was suing Steven Segal. The FBI were looking for evidence that Pellicano was involved in making the threat against Nasso. The FBI agents found two practice grenades which were modified to function as homemade bombs and military-grade C-4 plastic explosive.[7] Pellicano pled guilty to the illegal possession of dangerous materials. His sentence was thirty months in federal prison. His date of release was to be February 4, 2006. On February 3, Pellicano was transferred to the federal detention center, in Downtown Los Angeles to face new charges.

Indictment, 2006

On February 6, 2006, in United States District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, Pellicano was indicted on 110 counts. His alleged crimes included racketeering, conspiracy, wiretapping, witness tampering, identity theft and destruction of evidence. Specifically, Pellicano was charged with receiving unlawfully accessed confidential records on celebrities and public figures from members of the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments. For example, prosecutors alleged that Pellicano tapped the phones of Sylvester Stallone[8] and Keith Carradine and accessed the confidential police records of Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon. On February 15, 2006, the indictment was amended to include further charges of wiretapping and extortion.[9] Pellicano was denied bail. On June 7, 2006, the Associated Press reported that Pellicano performed an illegal background check on a law enforcement official who was investigating a fake passport scheme involving Pellicano's client, Christopher Rocancourt.[10]

Trial, 2008

The jury trial of Pellicano was to commence on February 27, 2008. The trial was delayed three times, due to a lengthy discovery process and retaining of defense counsel.[11]

Conviction and sentencing, 2008

On August 29, 2008, Pellicano was found guilty of conspiracy to commit wiretapping. Specifically, Pellicano had recorded phone conversations of Kirk Kerkorian's ex-wife, Lisa Kerkorian, in an effort to disprove her claims that Kerkorian was the father of her daughter. Sentencing was scheduled for November, 2008 then deferred to December 15, 2008.[12]

Related investigations

Carradine and Stevens

On January 11, 2006, Pellicano's girlfriend Sandra Will Carradine (ex-wife of Keith Carradine) and veteran Beverly Hills police officer Craig Stevens pled guilty to lying about Pellicano's crimes.[13]


Robert Joseph Pfeifer, at the time an executive at Hollywood Records, was a friend of Pellicano. Pfeifer was arrested on February 3, 2006, and charged with unlawful wiretapping and conspiracy. Pfeifer's then girlfriend, Erin Finn, assisted the FBI lead agent Stanley Ornellas in the investigation of Pfeifer and Pellicano.[14]


On April 3, 2006, film director John McTiernan was charged with lying to the FBI about his relationship with Pellicano. On April 17, 2006, McTiernan pled guilty to the charge. On September 24, 2007, he was sentenced to four months in prison. The sentence was later increased to twelve months, and ultimately he was incarcerated in federal prison from April 2013 to February 2014.


Dennis Wasser represented Tom Cruise in his divorce proceedings against Nicole Kidman. Wasser retained Pellicano. Tapes of telephone conversations from 2001, made shortly after the announcement of the divorce, were found in Pellicano's offices in 2002. Wasser was not charged but was made a person of interest.[15][16]


Bertram Fields, a lawyer for Tom Cruise and a client of Pellicano, denied any knowledge of Pellicano's crimes.


On May 28, 2004, Anita Busch, reporter for the Los Angeles Times, commenced a civil action against Pellicano, alleging harassment, including a death threat made in 2002:

"In 2002 Anita Busch discovered a dead fish with a red rose in its mouth and a sign reading "stop" on the cracked windshield of her car. At the time she was writing about Steven Seagal and Mike Ovitz, both clients of Pellicano. The trail eventually led to his office where FBI agents discovered plastic explosives, grenades, pistols and about $200,000 in cash in Pellicano's safe. He pleaded guilty to weapons charges and went to prison."[17]

Bonder and Kerkorian

The businessman Kirk Kerkorian was married to Lisa Bonder. In August 2006, attorneys acting for Bonder sued the attorneys acting for Kerkorian. They accused Kerkorian's attorneys of retaining Pellicano to wiretap telephone conversations between Bonder and Kerkorian to gain a tactical advantage in the divorce proceedings of Bonder and Kerkorian.[18]


Pellicano investigated movie producer Steve Bing (a friend of Kerkorian). He took a strand of Bing's used dental floss to prove that Bing was the father of Bonder's daughter. Between June 2000 and August 2002, Bing paid Pellicano $335,000.[19] Between April and May, 2002, Pellicano may have bragged to the attorney of Kerkorian that Bing had retained his services in relation to Bing being the father of Elizabeth Hurley's child. Bing, through his attorney Martin Singer, denied the fact, as did Pellicano.[20]


Pellicano threatened financier Ron Burkle with extortion of $100,000 to $250,000 to avoid investigation by Michael Ovitz, another of his clients.[19]


In July, 2006, "New York Times" reporter and lawyer Allison Weiner unsuccessfully attempted to interview Pellicano in jail by misrepresenting herself as his attorney.


During the night of November 27, 1997, a five-month-old girl disappeared from the home of her parents, Steven and Marlene Aisenberg. In 1999, Pellicano was an FBI wiretap consultant in the investigation of the Aisenbergs, who were charged with making false statements to police. In 2001, the charges were dismissed after county detectives lied about obtaining warrants to wiretap and lied about the content of the wiretap recordings.[21]


Pellicano represented the Chicago mobster Anthony "the Ant" Spilotro, charged with monitoring the Las Vegas casino and skimming for the Chicago mob. Pellicano served a subpoena and gave a warning from Spilotro to Gustave Reininger, co-creator of the NBC television drama Crime Story.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28]


  1. ^ Hall C. and Abdollah T. "Pellicano found guilty of racketeering." Los Angeles Times May 15, 2008. Accessed May 16, 2008.
  2. ^ Barnes B. "Pellicano and a lawyer convicted in wiretapping." New York Times August 29, 2008. Accessed December 15, 2008.
  3. ^ Barnes B. "15 years for Hollywood investigator." Associated Press. New York Times. December 15, 2008. Accessed December 15, 2008.
  4. ^ Pelisek C. August 7, 2011. Accessed February 12, 2013.Newsweek"Anthony Pellicano: the Hollywood phone hacker breaks his silence."
  5. ^ "Anthony Pellicano bail hearing postponed." Hollywood Reporter. July 5, 2012. Accessed February 12, 2013.
  6. ^ Howard D. "Tom Cruise accused of wiretap conspiracy with convicted criminal Anthony Pellicano during Nicole Kidman divorce (exclusive)." Celebuzz website. July 6, 2012. Accessed February 12, 2013.
  7. ^ Lasden M. "The Pellicano effect." California Lawyer Magazine. Accessed at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, December 21, 2010.
  8. ^ Shprintz J. "Stallone is queried in sleuth case."Variety November 18, 2003. Accessed October 17, 2006.
  9. ^ "Private eye indicted."
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ "Pellicano's wiretap trial pushed to August." Associated Press report, Variety November 20, 2006. Accessed 18 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Investigator to the stars convicted." New York Times May 16, 2008. Accessed February 12, 2013.
  13. ^ Blum H. and Connolly J. "The Pellicano brief." at the Wayback Machine (archived February 9, 2006) Vanity Fair March, 2004 p222. Accessed December 18, 2013.
  14. ^ Krikorian G. "Music figure held in Pellicano case." Los Angeles Times February 5, 2006. Accessed December 21, 2010.
  15. ^ [2] The Statesman Archived September 29, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "FBI quiz Kidman in wiretap probe." Digital spy. Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  17. ^ Cruz G. "Anthony Pellicano." Time December 14, 2008.
  18. ^ "Lawyer files suit over alleged wiretapping." Los Angeles Times August 10, 2006. Dead url.
  19. ^ a b Halbfinger D. M. "Billionaire reports a shakedown in Hollywood." New York Times April 20, 2006. Accessed April 12, 2007.
  20. ^ Halbfinger D. M. "Hollywood evidence raises questions." New York Times. April 12, 2007.
  21. ^ 358 F3d 1327 United States v. B Aisenberg Open Jurist organisation website. December 21, 2010.
  22. ^ Halbfinger D. M. and Weiner A. H. "Court files, Hollywood’s Mr. fix-it at work." New York Times. May 21, 2007.
  23. ^ Auletta K. "Hollywood Ending." The New Yorker, July 24, 2006.
  24. ^ Burrough B. and Connolly J. "Inside Hollywood's big wiretap scandal." Vanity Fair June, 2006. Archived May 2, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Halbfinger D. M. Hollywood detective accused of ordering 'hit' on witness." New York Times May 10, 2006. Accessed February 12, 2013.
  26. ^ Welkos R. W. "Lawyer to celebrities is subject of inquiry." Los Angeles Times February 7, 2006.Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  27. ^ Krikorian G. and Blankstein A. "Pellicano and six others are indicted." Los Angeles Times February 6, 2006. Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  28. ^ Blum H. and Connolly J. "The Pellicano brief." at the Wayback Machine (archived February 9, 2006) Vanity Fair March 2004. Accessed February 12, 2013.


External links

  • List of articles about Pellicano articles. The Los Angeles Times 2006.
  • Anthony Pellicano at the Internet Movie Database.
  • Auletta "Deadline Hollywood," The New Yorker July 16, 2006.
  • Announcement of Pellicano biography by John Connolly.
  • Sixty-page indictment against Pellicano and six others. February 6, 2006.
  • Superseding indictment charging Pellicano attorney associate. The Smoking Gun website. February 15, 2006.
  • Copy of Busch's lawsuit against Pellicano The Smoking Gun website.
  • Details of Pellicano's campaign contribution to Bill Clinton News Meat website.
  • [3] Website with links to media articles about Pellicano.
  • [4] Anthony Pellicano weblinks blog.
  • "Private investigators of the stars." Drakonx website.
  • [5] Anthony Pellicano victims blog.
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