August 29, 2008 / 9:24 PM / 9 years ago

Detective to stars, attorney guilty of wiretapping

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A private detective who once worked for Hollywood stars and a prominent attorney were convicted on Friday of federal wiretapping and conspiracy charges in a case stemming from billionaire Kirk Kerkorian’s bitter child support dispute.

A jury found sleuth Anthony Pellicano, 64, guilty of tapping the phones of Lisa Bonder, Kerkorian’s ex-wife, in 2002, said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney.

Kerkorian’s former attorney, Terry Christensen, was found guilty of aiding and abetting the wiretap. The jury found both men guilty of conspiracy to commit wiretapping.

The conviction marked a second blow to Pellicano following his conviction earlier this year in another case of using wiretaps and bribery to fix the problems of wealthy clients.

Pellicano and Christensen face up to 10 years in prison, Mrozek said. They are to be sentenced on November 17.

“We don’t agree with the jury,” said Patricia Glaser, Christensen’s attorney and law partner.

“We’re disappointed. We will be appealing on a myriad of issues and we are going to fight this all the way,” she said.

Kerkorian, 91, testified in the case on August 20. He told jurors he did not know Bonder’s calls were being tapped.

But prosecutors played audio tapes of conversations between Pellicano and Christensen for jurors in which the two men discussed Bonder’s private phone calls. Pellicano secretly made the recordings as he talked to Christensen over the phone.

Kerkorian eventually showed through DNA evidence that he was not the father of Bonder’s child.

Pellicano was convicted in May of racketeering, wiretapping and unlawfully obtaining information. A string of celebrity witnesses, including comedians Chris Rock and Garry Shandling, testified they either hired Pellicano or were spied on by him.

Pellicano was convicted of 76 charges in that case, and he is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison on those charges after he is sentenced in September.


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