LOS ANGELES – An imprisoned private investigator accused of eavesdropping on Hollywood celebrities called the federal wiretapping case against him bogus and reiterated a promise that he would not testify against his former clients.
Anthony Pellicano spoke via telephone to the Los Angeles Times in his first interview since he was indicted by a grand jury in February. He has pleaded not guilty to more than 100 counts and is awaiting trial on charges of wiretapping such stars as Sylvester Stallone and paying two police officers to run names, including comedians Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon, through a government database.
Fourteen people, including Pellicano, have been charged with various counts, including wire fraud and conspiracy. Six people have pleaded guilty, including "Die Hard" director John McTiernan, for making false statements to an FBI agent, and former Hollywood Records president Robert Pfeifer, who admitted hiring Pellicano to wiretap the phone of his former girlfriend.
Pellicano, 62, has long maintained that he would never break the trust he shared with his former clients and employees.
"I am never going to besmirch a client or any other person that I gave my trust to or who gave their trust to me," Pellicano told the newspaper this week from the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles. "I'm never going to do that. I am going to be a man until I fall — if, in fact, that happens."
Pellicano's troubles began in 2002 when prosecutors claim he hired Alexander Proctor to threaten a former Los Angeles Times reporter, who was working on a story about actor Steven Seagal and possible links to the Mafia. The reporter found a dead fish with a rose in its mouth on her car's windshield and a note reading: stop.
The FBI later raided Pellicano's office, found illegal explosives and seized documents and computers. He served a 2 1/2-year sentence on charges related to the explosives and faces state charges in connection with the alleged threats.
Pellicano dismissed the assertions that he ordered the threats against the reporter.
"You know the kind of guy I am. If I got a problem with you, I'm in your face," Pellicano told the newspaper, which posted the interview on its Web site Saturday.
Pellicano called federal prosecutors "overzealous" and said the case has been blown out of proportion because of his famous client base that once included Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Stallone.
"The federal government has purposely tried to make this thing larger than life — like a Hollywood movie," he said. "They are trying to use my name and reputation to build something better for themselves."
He also said it was ironic that the federal government is accusing him of wiretapping at a time when it is under fire for authorizing the National Security Agency to monitor Americans' telephone calls without court warrants in search of terrorist connections.
"If the American public had any idea of all the surveillance, wiretapping and illegal things that our own government actually does, they would be shocked," Pellicano said. "Chasing terrorists is what the FBI is supposed to be doing. I've got to tell you, if instead of keeping me behind bars here, they gave me the job of finding Osama bin Laden, I guarantee you I would find him."