WASHINGTON – A former FBI agent pleaded guilty Monday to illegally using the bureau's computers to search for information on people like former superagent Michael Ovitz and entertainment lawyer Bert Fields as part of a wiretapping caper involving Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano.
Mark Rossini, who once worked in the FBI press office in Washington and also in New York City, entered the guilty plea to five charges of criminal computer access in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola. He will be sentenced on March 13.
Rossini, who said little while he was before Facciola, resigned from the FBI as part of his plea.
The charges stemmed from Rossini's effort to find information that would help Pellicano defend himself against wiretapping charges. According to court paperwork, Rossini twice in January — and again in February, March and July — used computers at the FBI to obtain "information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he was not permitted to receive."
"You abused the position you had," Facciola told Rossini.
Some of the people Rossini used FBI computers to search for included Ovitz, Fields and James Wiatt, president of the William Morris talent agency, power brokers with links to Pellicano.
The former agent also gave a woman identified only as "X" in the plea agreement documents detailing an FBI interview with a confidential source, and the woman gave it to one of Pellicano's lawyers. The lawyers then tried to use it in Pellicano's case, the documents said.
Rossini was in a "close personal relationship" with "X," the documents said.
As part of the plea agreement, Rossini acknowledged that articles detailing his relationship with actress Linda Fiorentino were true.
He faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine on each count. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors say they will ask for probation. A final sentence will be determined by Facciola, however.
"I have no idea what your sentence will be," Facciola told Rossini.
Rossini and his lawyer, Adam Hoffinger, refused to comment after the court session. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tejpal S. Chawla also refused to comment.
Pellicano is awaiting sentencing after his conviction in Los Angeles for bugging phones of celebrities and others to get information for clients of his detective agency.