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Pellicano Says U.S. Spied on Him

The PI's then-girlfriend fed the FBI information gained during prison visits, his attorney says.

April 27, 2006|Greg Krikorian, Henry Weinstein and Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writers

In a twist to a wiretapping scandal captivating Hollywood, the private eye indicted for allegedly bugging celebrities and other high-profile targets has accused the federal government of spying on him in prison through a secret arrangement with his then-girlfriend.

Anthony Pellicano's attorney filed motions this week in federal court saying Sandra Wil Carradine provided FBI agents and prosecutors with a "fountain of information" after a series of jailhouse visits late last year, giving them insights into the lawyer's legal strategy and violating his attorney-client privilege.

As she met with Pellicano at the Taft Correctional Institute in Bakersfield, where Pellicano was finishing up a sentence for possession of explosives, the private detective did not know that Carradine had secretly begun cooperating with the government in July or that he had already been indicted in the wiretapping scandal, said Pellicano's attorney, Steven Gruel, in court documents. Both her cooperation and his indictment remained under seal until February.

"According to the indictment, the government alleges that Anthony Pellicano engaged in conduct for clients to gain an unfair advantage in litigation," Gruel said in an interview.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday May 14, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Anthony Pellicano: An article in the April 27 California section about indicted private investigator Anthony Pellicano misidentified the location of the federal prison where he had been serving a sentence. The Taft Correctional Institute is in Taft, Calif., not Bakersfield.

"My initial review of the legal and factual landscape suggest that is what the government did here," he said.

In motions filed to force the government to produce additional information in the case, Gruel says Carradine, the ex-wife of actor Keith Carradine, acted as a "go-between" between the lawyer and Pellicano in December when they were still negotiating the terms of Gruel's legal representation.

Gruel said Sandra Carradine solicited his "thoughts, opinions and general observations about the government's case."

In mid-December, Gruel says in the motions, Carradine told FBI Special Agent Stan Ornellas, the bureau's lead investigator in the case, that Pellicano was attempting to hire the attorney, making it "likely that the government knew of Mr. Pellicano's interest in my representation even before I did."

Carradine also told Ornellas of Pellicano's interest in calling a particular defense witness, enabling the FBI to contact the person before Pellicano's defense did, according to Gruel.

His motions also say information he has already received from the government as part of the legal discovery process shows that Carradine has given Ornellas "Mr. Pellicano's correspondence to several attorneys."

The motions were filed late Tuesday and represent Gruel's most aggressive attack against the government's case, filed in February, which has led to charges against Pellicano and 13 others.

Six defendants have pleaded guilty. Those include Carradine, who admitted in January that she lied to a grand jury about her knowledge that Pellicano had wiretapped the home of Keith Carradine during a dispute over child support.

The U.S. attorney's office and FBI declined to comment on Gruel's assertions and said they would soon file formal responses. Carradine's lawyer, Peter Knecht, said his client had not breached any attorney-client relationship or acted improperly in her dealings with Pellicano or Gruel.

Knecht said that at the time of Carradine's prison visits, Pellicano had not retained counsel in the wiretapping case. The lawyer added that Pellicano knew Carradine was being looked at by federal authorities and encouraged her to protect herself.

"He told her, 'Remember, take care of No. 1.' So, in effect, he gave her permission to do whatever was necessary to benefit herself," Knecht said.

He also said the government told Carradine that she was visiting Pellicano in prison, not being sent there as a government informant. It is unclear how Gruel's allegations could affect the prosecution of Pellicano.

Gordon Greenberg, a Los Angeles defense lawyer, said that any time a prosecutor obtains information he knows is covered by the attorney-client privilege, "you are not on firm ground; you have an issue" to confront.

With a potential mountain of evidence in the Pellicano case, Greenberg and Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson said the government has taken special precautions to avoid problems with evidence by setting up "clean" and "dirty" teams of prosecutors and investigators. They have been created to ensure that those who will try the case are walled off from information that they are not legally entitled to see, such as conversations between defendants and their attorneys.

In the Pellicano case, members of the "dirty" team have reviewed tapes of attorney-client conversations so "clean" team members have not been privy to information they should not have seen.

"The prosecutors knew that Carradine was talking to Pellicano," Levenson said, "so to the extent they knew about this, the 'dirty' team is supposed to screen that information, so the prosecutors do not have any privileged confidential information."

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