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Bail Set for Suspect With Famous Clients

November 28, 2002|Steve Berry | Times Staff Writer

Over the objections of prosecutors, a judge set bail Wednesday for a celebrated private investigator suspected of possessing explosives and of hiring a man to threaten a Los Angeles Times reporter.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Fernando M. Olguin set bail at $400,000 for Anthony Pellicano, who has worked for celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson. His lawyer predicted he would make bail and be released in time for Thanksgiving dinner at home.

"I think he will have a pretty good Thanksgiving," Donald M. Re, Pellicano's attorney, said after the bail hearing in federal court in Los Angeles.

A scruffy-looking Pellicano, bound with waist chains and handcuffs, declined to comment.

Olguin rejected a contention by prosecutors that Pellicano is a danger to the community. The magistrate said he agreed to set bail after reviewing letters of support for the defendant from friends and relatives, many of whom attended the hearing, and because Pellicano had no criminal record.

Olguin noted that he was concerned about "weight of the evidence, which, like the government says, is strong."

Pellicano has been charged with possession of two unregistered hand grenades, which were reportedly discovered by federal agents in a safe at his Hollywood office on Sunset Boulevard. Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel Saunders said Pellicano had conceded that he owned the safe and that he was the only one with the combination.

Investigators said they also found military plastic explosives, blasting caps, about $200,000 in cash, gold bullion and jewelry.

They found those items while searching for evidence of Pellicano's alleged involvement in a plot to threaten a Times reporter, Anita Busch, who was investigating actor Steven Seagal. A search warrant affidavit states that authorities believed Pellicano hired and paid Alexander Proctor, 59, to burn the car of Busch, who had been investigating the relationship between Seagal and a reputed Mafia associate.

Proctor has been accused of placing a dead fish, a rose and a one-word sign reading "Stop" on Busch's car.

In a secretly recorded conversation, Proctor allegedly told an FBI informant that he had been paid by Pellicano to carry out the threat on behalf of Seagal, who has denied involvement.

The evidence was not discussed Wednesday. The judge refused to allow prosecutors to discuss the threats unless they released the sealed search warrant affidavit to defense attorneys. Olguin said the alleged threats were not relevant to the weapons charges on which Pellicano is being held.

At one point, he cut Saunders off when the prosecutor noted that Pellicano had been quoted in a news story as saying he uses fear tactics only when he has to.

Saunders argued unsuccessfully that illegal possession of explosives made Pellicano a danger to the community.

Saunders argued that Pellicano had offered no good explanation for having the devices.

Re said Pellicano had forgotten about some of the explosives, that he had obtained them from a client and that he had intended to find a way to safely discard them.

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