LOS ANGELES – A federal prosecutor claimed Tuesday that taped phone calls between Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano and a high-powered lawyer showed they were conducting illegal wiretaps, even though the alleged wiretapped recordings have never been found.
In his closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Saunders played a phone conversation for jurors in which Pellicano told attorney Terry Christensen that all the information he would be gathering would be kept between them. Christensen agreed.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Saunders said, "what you just heard was the birth of a conspiracy between two different men with a single desire -- to win."
He also called their actions a "shocking display of unmitigated greed and corruption."
The defendants are accused of recording phone conversations of Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, former wife of billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, in an effort to disprove her claims that the MGM mogul was the father of her young daughter.
Saunders claimed oblique references by Pellicano to Christensen mentioning statements Lisa Bonder Kerkorian made only in private to friends and associates showed that she was being wiretapped.
While old-fashioned private eyes pounded the pavement for information, Pellicano "sat in his office and listened to wiretaps," Saunders said.
Prosecutors allege Christensen paid Pellicano $25,000 up front and promised $100,000 more if he could identify the true father of the girl. DNA tests later showed movie producer Steve Bing was the biological father.
In the defense argument, Christensen's attorney Patricia Glaser told jurors there was no evidence of any wiretaps of Bonder Kerkorian, and said Pellicano was not hired to do any wiretaps.
In a review of evidence, she alleged that Pellicano was actually working for Bing and had no loyalty to Chistensen. She said that the recordings of Christensen in his conversations with Pellicano were not wiretapped and that "they contained lies and cons" by Pellicano.
Christensen didn't know he was being recorded and never mentioned wiretapping, Glaser said. She stressed that "we only represent Terry Christensen. We have our problems with Mr. Pellicano."
Glaser replayed for jurors excerpts of the taped conversations between the two men but gave them interpretations different from prosecutors'. She also denounced the prosecution for failing to call Bonder Kerkorian as a witness.
"If she were to testify, she could have refuted the facts," Glaser said.
She also showed jurors phone records and technical evidence of how wiretaps are placed and said there was no proof that Pellicano did such wiretapping.
Christensen hired Pellicano to find the identity of the girl's biological father, she said, and she played for jurors a recorded conversation in which Pellicano and Christensen parted ways once Bing was identified as the father.
"I've lost all my fees," Pellicano said. "I've lost money on this case. There's nothing left of the mission."
Pellicano, who was convicted of illegal wiretapping and racketeering in a separate case this year, represented himself and declined to make a closing argument.
Saunders was scheduled to deliver a rebuttal argument Wednesday before the case goes to the jury for deliberations.