Private eye charged with wiretapping stars

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A private eye was charged Monday with wiretapping such stars as Sylvester Stallone and Keith Carradine and paying tens of thousands of dollars to bribe a police officer for dirt on Hollywood figures.

Anthony Pellicano, 61, pleaded not guilty to racketeering, interception of electronic communications and other offenses. He was charged along with a Los Angeles police officer, telephone company employee and four others.

“These charges allege a disturbing pattern of criminal conduct in which money flowed freely to encourage sworn law enforcement officers to violate their oath to uphold the law,” Acting U.S. Attorney George Cardona said.

The indictment said the information gathered was used for threats, blackmail and in some cases to secure “tactical advantage in litigation.” At least in some cases, Pellicano was hired by clients to collect the material, according to the indictment. Prosecutors would not elaborate.

Pellicano has worked for Hollywood stars, including Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Stallone. High-profile lawyers and agents also have enlisted his services.

Stallone’s publicist declined comment. Messages left for Carradine’s manager were not immediately returned.

The private investigator was released Friday from a federal prison after completing a 2 1/2-year sentence for possessing illegal weapons. He was transferred to San Bernardino County Jail and denied bail. His trial on the new charges was set for April 4.

Before he went to prison, Pellicano said he would protect his clients’ confidentiality. His attorney, Steven Gruel, would not comment directly on the charges.

The indictment said Mark Arneson, a veteran police sergeant who has since retired, received at least $189,000 from Pellicano to search law enforcement databases for “confidential, embarrassing or incriminating” information. More than 60 people were run through police databases, including comedians Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon, the indictment said.

According to the indictment, Rayford Earl Turner, an employee of SBC and Pacific Bell at the time, received at least $36,655 from Pellicano “for the purpose of obtaining proprietary telephone company information and facilitating illegal wiretaps.”

With the help of Turner and Kevin Kachikian, who provided the wiretapping devices, Pellicano intercepted phone calls of several people, including prominent real estate developer Robert Maguire and Mark Hughes, founder of Herbalife, the indictment said.

Kachikian was charged with conspiracy, wiretapping, possession of a wiretapping device and destroying evidence.

The indictment also charged Robert Pfeifer, former president of Hollywood Records, with wiretapping a former girlfriend and with witness tampering for later threatening the woman. His lawyer denied any wrongdoing on Pfeifer’s part.

The other two defendants named in the indictment were brothers from Las Vegas who were involved in a business dispute with a man who was wiretapped, prosecutors said.

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