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Filmmaker Says He Lied in FBI Probe

John McTiernan, who made `Die Hard' and `Predator,' pleads guilty to lying about hiring private eye Pellicano to wiretap a producer.

April 18, 2006|Greg Krikorian and Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writers

Film director John McTiernan pleaded guilty on Monday to lying to the FBI about hiring Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano to wiretap veteran film producer Charles Roven in the summer of 2000.

The plea agreement makes McTiernan, 55, the sixth person to acknowledge criminal wrongdoing in the growing wiretapping investigation in which Pellicano, McTiernan and a dozen others have been charged.

The terms of McTiernan's plea agreement were not released. But it is believed he will be a cooperating witness in the government's investigation.

McTiernan, whose film credits include "Predator" and "Die Hard," entered his plea at a hearing Monday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer.

McTiernan, his head bowed as he nervously tapped the lectern, admitted making "knowingly false" statements to an FBI agent in February about his hiring of Pellicano.

McTiernan admitted lying to the agent when he denied that Pellicano had ever told him of his ability to wiretap adversaries.

McTiernan said he also lied when he denied hiring Pellicano in a case unrelated to his own divorce, in which he employed the private eye to gather information on his ex-wife. "In fact, I had used Anthony to wiretap Charles Roven," McTiernan told the judge. "I had spoken with him about it. I never received a report or specific information. I paid him off and fired him. But I did not tell that to the agent on the phone."

Why McTiernan engaged Pellicano to wiretap Roven is unclear, although the two worked together in 2000 on the box office flop "Rollerball."

McTiernan, who returns to court July 31 for sentencing, faces a maximum of five years in federal prison.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, he could receive six months or less. He also faces three years' probation and a $250,000 fine.

Outside court, McTiernan and his attorney, John Carlton, refused to discuss the specifics of the plea agreement, which was placed under seal.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel Saunders, citing the sealed plea agreement, also declined to comment.

Meanwhile, attorneys for Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, the ex-wife of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, filed a lawsuit Thursday against AT&T for invasion of privacy.

A former telephone company employee allegedly helped Pellicano wiretap her and others.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for emotional distress, invasion of privacy and negligence in connection with wiretapping during a heated dispute over child support.

Two months ago, a federal grand jury indicted Terry N. Christensen, an attorney known for representing celebrity clients, on charges that he paid Pellicano $100,000 to illegally wiretap Lisa Bonder Kerkorian's phone.

In one conversation, the indictment says, Pellicano told Christensen about a wiretapped call between Bonder Kerkorian and her attorneys and warned Christensen to "be very careful about this, because there is only one way for me to know this."

In another conversation, Pellicano allegedly assures Christensen, "I know everything that's going on, and obviously they don't know I know."

Christensen has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.

While authorities already have charged two former telephone company employees with aiding Pellicano in the alleged wiretapping, Monday's lawsuit by Bonder Kerkorian does not identify any specific employees of AT&T.

Instead, it alleges that unnamed phone company employees enabled Pellicano to secretly intercept "several hundred" of Bonder Kerkorian's personal telephone calls, including ones with her family.

Echoing allegations taken from the 112-count indictment of Pellicano and his co-defendants, the lawsuit alleges that the motivation for the wiretaps was "to glean information to secure a tactical advantage in litigation" between Bonder Kerkorian and her former husband.

The 40-year-old former tennis pro was married to Kerkorian for one month and was seeking $320,000 a month in support from her former husband to pay for private jet flights, hotel accommodations, horses and parties for the couple's then 4-year-old daughter, Kira.

Attorneys for Bonder Kerkorian said it was likely that others defendants would be added to the lawsuit.

Representatives of the telephone company have repeatedly denied any knowledge that their employees were engaged in any illegal activity.

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