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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Sherman Oaks

Man Sentenced in Taping of Cruise-Kidman Phone Spat

May 18, 1999|TONY OLIVO

A photographer who intercepted a phone call from actress Nicole Kidman to her husband, actor Tom Cruise, and peddled the recorded lovers' spat to supermarket tabloids was sentenced Monday to six months at a halfway house and three years' probation, the U.S. district attorney's office said.

Eric Ford, 27, of Sherman Oaks admitted in March that he used an illegally modified police scanner to intercept a call Kidman made last year to Cruise on her car phone, said Assistant U.S. Dist. Atty. Wendy Clendening.

Federal law forbids accessing such conversations, making it a felony if the act is done for commercial gain.

Ford sold the recorded conversation to Globe magazine for $2,500, the photographer said outside the U.S. district courthouse after the hearing.

A subsequent article, for which the Globe was not indicted, gave a "blow-by-blow" account of a marital tiff.

Originally faced with up to 15 years in prison on three felony counts, Ford was given the lighter sentence after federal prosecutors agreed to charge him only with intercepting the phone call.

The other two charges, both for disclosing the contents of the recording, were waived, Clendening said.

Ford also was fined $3,000 and ordered to perform community service.

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