Director McTiernan gets another shot to avoid jail

Thu Oct 23, 2008 5:24am EDT
 
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By Leslie Simmons

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Director John McTiernan is getting one more chance to prove that his 2006 guilty plea for lying to the feds about the wiretapping abilities of former celebrity sleuth Anthony Pellicano should be tossed out.

On Wednesday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that Judge Dale Fischer hold a full evidentiary hearing over whether the "Die Hard" director has a "fair and just reason" to withdraw his guilty plea.

In March 2006, McTiernan signed a plea agreement admitting that he lied to federal investigators about Pellicano, whom the director had hired during a bitter legal battle with producer Chuck Roven over the box office blunder "Rollerball." The movie was made for $70 million but grossed just $25 million worldwide.

McTiernan claims he was not informed by his previous attorney that he could have moved to suppress incriminating recordings seized by the government from Pellicano's office. Fischer had ruled that McTiernan simply changed his mind on the plea once he learned that the government intended to put him in prison.

The U.S. Attorney's Office had no comment on the decision.

If his guilty plea remains, McTiernan faces four months in federal prison, a two-year supervised release and a $100,000 fine.

Pellicano, meanwhile, faces up to 10 years in prison after being convicted in August on charges related to wiretapping and conspiracy charges. He is due to be sentenced next month.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

 
<p>Film director John McTiernan leaves following his arraignment in the Pellicano case at the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building in Los Angeles, California April 17, 2006. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>