Hollywood private eye tried for wiretapping, bribery

Thu Mar 6, 2008 7:04pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Anthony Pellicano, once known as Hollywood's private eye to the stars, was a man driven by greed and ambition who used wiretapping and bribery to fix problems for wealthy clients, a federal prosecutor told a Los Angeles jury on Thursday.

Making opening statements in a trial with a celebrity-heavy witness list that has kept Hollywood on tenterhooks for almost six years, prosecutor Kevin Lally said Pellicano ran a "thriving criminal enterprise."

"This is a case about corruption in some of society's most fundamental systems -- the police department, the telephone company and the legal system," Lally said.

Lally said Pellicano's targets ranged from rape victims to cheating spouses and a troublesome screenwriter.

The former private investigator, who is representing himself, told the jury he was a problem solver who had vast contacts with law enforcement and who was "loved" by his wealthy clients because he produced results.

"Primarily what I did was to serve clients in problem solving," Pellicano, 63, said in his opening statement.

Pellicano is accused of wiretapping the telephones of opponents of his powerful clients and of bribing police officers and telephone company workers to run illegal background checks on the targets of his investigation.

He has already served jail time for weapons and explosives possession, but has pleaded not guilty along with his four co-defendants to the 111 federal charges they face together.   Continued...

<p>Farrah Fawcett (L) is escorted by Anthony Pellicano as she leaves the courthouse after testifying against her former boyfriend, writer-director James Orr, in this August 12, 1998 file photo. Pellicano is accused of wiretapping and illegally accessing the information of more than 100 people. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>