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Pellicano to Offer Plea Deal in Hearing

September 20, 2003|David Rosenzweig | Times Staff Writer

Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano will appear in federal court Monday and offer to plead guilty to a felony charge of illegally possessing C-4 explosives, an offense that could send him to prison for about a year, one of his defense lawyers said Friday.

But Pellicano's offer would be contingent on the government dropping two other criminal charges against the celebrity sleuth -- a proposal that a prosecutor said he would reject.

Defense attorney Victor Sherman said his client wants the prosecution to dismiss another felony charge of possessing two unregistered hand grenades and a misdemeanor count of unlawfully storing the C-4 explosives in a safe at his former Sunset Boulevard offices.

A conviction on those charges could add two or three years to Pellicano's prison term under federal sentencing guidelines.

FBI agents found the contraband when they searched Pellicano's offices in November as part of an investigation into threats made against a Los Angeles Times reporter who was researching the relationship between actor Steven Seagal and an alleged Mafia associate.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel Saunders said Friday that he would not accept any such deal. That would set the stage for a trial on all three counts currently set for Oct. 7 before U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian.

Previous attempts to settle the case through plea negotiations ended in failure.

Pellicano's difficulties with the law began last year when an FBI informant awaiting trial on criminal charges implicated him in the threats against reporter Anita Busch. Pellicano, who has worked for some of the biggest names in show business, has denied any involvement in the threats. So has Seagal.

Only one suspect has been arrested in that case. He is Alexander Proctor, 59, an ex-convict with a history of drug arrests who is awaiting trial.

But the search of his offices proved costly for Pellicano. Not only is he facing trial on charges of possessing two illegal hand grenades and a quantity of C-4 explosives, but he has also become the target of a major wiretapping investigation.

FBI agents also seized computer files from Pellicano's office containing the equivalent of nearly 2 billion double-spaced pages of text. Those computer files have become the focus of a federal grand jury probe into allegations that Pellicano conducted extensive illegal wiretapping on behalf of a number of Los Angeles lawyers who used his services.

Saunders disclosed the existence of the wiretapping investigation during a court hearing on the explosives charges earlier this year. He has declined further comment. Sources close to the case said this week that the probe is continuing and might not be wrapped up before the end of the year.

Pellicano, who is free on $400,000 bond, closed his business office earlier this year, complaining that the notoriety surrounding the case had frightened away clients and dried up his business.

Pellicano has worked for a host of Hollywood celebrities over the years and has had a long relationship with law enforcement agencies.

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