A federal appeals court has upheld the racketeering and illegal wiretap convictions of Anthony Pellicano, the one-time private investigator for the stars, but some lesser charges of aiding computer fraud and unauthorized access were reversed.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday ordered resentencing on the reduced charges for Pellicano, along with co-defendants Mark Arneson, a Los Angeles police officer bribed by Pellicano and Rayford Turner, a phone company employee who provided confidential information need for wiretaps.
Pellicano had been sentenced to 15 years in prison, Turner and Arneson to 10 years each.
In the scandal that broke in a decade ago, after the FBI began to investigate Pellicano for threatening a former Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch.She ahd been researching an alleged extortion plot against action film star Steven Seagal. She fund a dead fish, a rose and a note on her car windshield with one-word warning: “Stop.”
The case included among Pellicano’s alleged victims Sylvester Stallone and Keith Carradine and super-agent mike Ovitz.
In the end, it was discovered that Pellicano bribed LA police officers for access to confidential law enforcement databases, according to the court. He orchestrated wiretaps of targets to listen in on the target’s family, friends, doctors and lawyers. He paid phone company employee for information needed for the wiretaps and hired a software developer to create software to record the conversations.
In 2003, Pellicano, Arneson and Turner were charged with racketeering, wiretapping, computer fraud, identity theft, conspiracy and other charges. Three other defendants were also charged for roles in the alleged wiretapping.
The appeals court vacated Pellicano’s convictions for aiding and abetting computer fraud and unauthorized access. It also vacated Turner’s conviction for aiding and abetting computer fraud and Arneson’s convictions for computer fraud and unauthorized computer access.
The appeals court found jury instructions were prejudicial on the aiding and abetting counts because of an intervening precedent on proving unauthorized access to databases in the course of a job.
The three other defendants were Abner Nicherie, Kevin Kachikian and Terry Christensen.
Case: U.S. v. Christensen, No. 10-50472