April 4, 2008 / 5:51 PM / 10 years ago

Chris Rock testifies in Hollywood wiretap case

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Chris Rock testified on Friday that he hired Hollywood’s so-called private eye to the stars to find incriminating information about a Hungarian model who filed a paternity suit against him.

Rock, the star of the 2003 movie “Head of State” and co-creator of the TV show “Everybody Hates Chris,” looked nervous during his 20-minute appearance at the trial of private investigator Anthony Pellicano, who is charged with bribery and wiretapping on behalf of dozens of Hollywood celebrities and movie executives.

Rock, 43, told the federal court jury in Los Angeles that he hired Pellicano in 1999 to investigate model Monika Zsibrita because he felt he was being shaken down when Zsibrita accused him of fathering her child after a one night stand at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

“Someone who is not pregnant with my child claims to be pregnant with my child and requested large sums of money,” Rock said.

Comedian Chris Rock (C) leaves the courthouse after testifying in the trial of Anthony Pellicano in Los Angeles April 4, 2008. Pellicano, a Hollywood private investigator, is facing multiple charges including illegal wiretapping. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Prosecutors allege that Pellicano paid a Los Angeles police officer to run unauthorized background checks on Zsibrita. Tests showed later that Rock was not the father but the actor said he again hired Pellicano in 2001 after Zsibrita accused him of raping her during their hotel tryst.

Rock, who is not charged with any crime, denied knowing Pellicano was involved in illegal activities.

He testified that Pellicano read him police reports reflecting that Zsibrita claimed she had been assaulted. He said Pellicano told him: “I‘m going to read it to you but I‘m not supposed to have it.”

Rock is among about 100 witnesses, including actors Sylvester Stallone, Farrah Fawcett and Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey, called to testify for the prosecution in a trial that has exposed the seamy side of the movie industry.

Pellicano, 63, has pleaded not guilty to wiretapping the telephones of his clients’ opponents and bribing police and telephone company officials to run illegal background checks.

The investigator, who once worked for lawyers representing Tom Cruise, Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

Editing by Vicki Allen

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