LOS ANGELES – A journalist who had written articles that a Hollywood client of private eye Anthony Pellicano didn't like was in tears Wednesday as she testified about what she believes was a threat on her life.
Anita Busch testified at Pellicano's wiretapping trial that after the articles were published in 2002, she was walking to her car and spotted a vehicle that appeared ready to run her down.
After she got into her car, someone in the other vehicle rolled down a window and put his finger to his lips as if to tell her to be quiet, she testified.
The man also waved two fingers, which she said she took to indicate he was saying goodbye and making a death threat.
"I was thinking I was going to die," a tearful Busch testified. "I thought this is how it ends, in front of this stupid apartment building."
Pellicano and four other co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to using wiretaps and other tactics to dig up dirt to help clients in legal and other disputes.
Pellicano is acting as his own lawyer, and under his cross-examination Busch trembled and took several drinks of water.
"Mr. Pellicano, I was scared 24-7 ..." she said.
Busch and another journalist wrote stories in 2002 alleging financial problems at one-time Disney president and superagent Michael Ovitz's Artists Management Group while the company was in talks to be acquired.
After the articles were published and about two months before the incident outside the apartment building, a dead fish with a rose in its mouth was found on Busch's car along with a sign reading "stop."
Ovitz testified earlier Wednesday that he paid $75,000 to Pellicano to investigate who was leaking the information. Testifying for an hour, Ovitz said he also had discussions with Pellicano about getting embarrassing information about the reporters.
Asked if he had Pellicano threaten Busch, Ovitz answered, "Absolutely no."
Busch testified she has sued Ovitz and Pellicano over alleged threats and wiretaps.
Ovitz said Pellicano gave him the code name "Gaspar" to identify himself when he called the detective. He said he was not aware that Pellicano was doing anything illegal on his behalf.
"I assume whatever he did, he did legally. I would never instruct him to do anything illegal," Ovitz said.
Attorney Chad Hummel, who represents co-defendant Mark Arneson, asked Ovitz during cross-examination what information he had sought from Pellicano about the leaks.
"Whatever I could get from him," Ovitz said. "I wanted to know when I was going to be ambushed, and when the next shoe would drop."