Vengeful investor and cheating wife testify in trial
By Leslie Simmons
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Foul-mouthed taped audio conversations reminiscent of "The Sopranos" were played Tuesday for the jury in the federal wiretapping and racketeering case against former celebrity sleuth Anthony Pellicano.
The recordings, made by Pellicano at his Sunset Boulevard office, were of talks between the private eye and his client Adam Sender, a New York hedge fund manager.
Pellicano, 63, and four others are on trial on charges of wiretapping and racketeering. Pellicano, who is representing himself, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.
Sender had hired Pellicano to investigate the producer Aaron Russo ("Trading Places"). Sender testified that he had loaned $1.1 million to Russo in 1999 to start up two joint ventures, a film production company and a dot-com to sell holistic medicine.
But Russo, who died last year of cancer, never delivered on the investment, Sender said, and so he filed suit against the producer to recover the money. Sender brought in Pellicano on the advice of his attorney, Bert Fields, after Russo managed to elude being served with court papers for a year. Sender testified that it became evident that Pellicano was wiretapping his adversary.
"I want to make this guy's life as miserable as possible," Sender told Pellicano in one profanity-laced conversation.
It was Sender's live testimony, however, that the former private eye offered to have the producer murdered that really raised eyebrows and brought snickers from a few courtroom watchers.
"If I wanted to, I could authorize to have him murdered on the way back from Las Vegas -- have someone follow him back, drive him off the road and bury his body somewhere in the desert," Sender testified Pellicano told him. Continued...