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Reporter in Seagal Stories Files Suit

She accuses a former private investigator of harassment.

June 02, 2004|Caitlin Liu | Times Staff Writer

A former Los Angeles Times reporter has filed a lawsuit accusing onetime private investigator Anthony Pellicano of harassment, invasion of privacy and ruining her journalism career over stories she wrote about actor Steven Seagal.

The complaint, filed by Anita M. Busch in Los Angeles Superior Court, also accuses former Los Angeles robbery-homicide Det. Mark Arneson of using police databases to supply confidential information on her to Pellicano and others who allegedly tried to intimidate her. Busch, an editor at the Hollywood Reporter before working for The Times, was investigating Seagal's alleged ties to organized crime in 2002 when she began receiving threats.

Her car windshield was smashed and near the cracked glass was a dead fish and a note that stated "stop." She received anonymous calls telling of a plot to blow up her car and her computer was hacked, destroying her hard drive. Also, the suit stated, two men she did not know showed up at her parents' home, where she had been staying, and the driver of a Mercedes with tinted windows tried to run her down.

The incidents "frightened, terrified and devastated" Busch, according to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.

"She's trying to get on with her life in terms of a new career," her attorney, Matthew Geragos, said. He declined to identify that career. Busch's contract with The Times ended last month.

Attorneys for Pellicano and Arneson could not be reached for comment.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, Arneson is retired. The police and the city attorney's office declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

In court documents, federal prosecutors have said they have "corroborating evidence" linking Pellicano to criminal threats against Busch, including a file in Pellicano's office containing information on Busch.

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