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Ex-SBC Worker Denies Perjury in Pellicano Case

September 21, 2006|Greg Krikorian | Times Staff Writer

A former SBC employee denied Wednesday that she lied to a federal grand jury about her contacts with a co-worker who has been indicted in the racketeering and wiretapping case of indicted private investigator Anthony Pellicano.

Facing five counts of perjury, Joann Wiggan, 52, of Burbank also testified that whatever calls she made to or received from her former co-worker, Ray Turner, had nothing to do with his alleged involvement in accessing confidential phone records for Pellicano.

Wiggan at one point broke down in tears as she testified in her own defense, contradicting assertions by federal prosecutors that she repeatedly lied to a federal grand jury about her contacts with Turner. As they presented the government's case on the first day of trial Tuesday, prosecutors said that two other ex-SBC employees who have admitted illegally providing confidential phone company information to Turner were contacting him at the same time as Wiggan.

But the former SBC employees, Teresa Wright and Michele Malkin, testified Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer that they did not know Wiggan. Other government witnesses, including an FBI agent and an SBC security official, testified that they had no way of knowing what Turner and Wiggan talked about, or even if the many calls between their home, work and cellphones were made by them or others with access to those phones.

Under questioning by her attorney, David R. Reed, Wiggan described Turner as a co-worker whom she had known for years and as a "fun guy

His friendship was particularly welcome, Wiggan said, during the period from late 1999 to 2002 that has been the subject of interest by authorities because of the phone calls between the former SBC employees. "We talked now and then," Wiggan said. "I was depressed. I was going through a bad time," she said, recalling how her mother had died and that she was too ill to attend the funeral. It was also during that period, Wiggan testified, that she was first estranged from her husband and was seeing a psychiatrist. "I was going through a terrible period of my life," she said, breaking into tears. Turner "was nice to me."

When she was later called before the grand jury to testify about her contacts with Turner, Wiggan said, she testified without an attorney because she did not think she needed one.

"I didn't have anything to hide," she said, reiterating that she never provided any proprietary information to Turner.

In his opening remarks, Reed portrayed Wiggan as someone whose grand jury testimony has come back to haunt her because she appeared without an attorney and relied on her memory and other faulty information.

Despite phone records showing calls from her numbers to her voicemail at work, Reed said, Wiggan originally told the grand jury she had not accessed her office voicemail before 2003, only to learn later that her estranged husband had been checking it during that time because he suspected that she was seeing someone else.

Wiggan also testified that she would often forget about specific voicemail messages and would often not check her voicemail because she found the process "annoying," especially when her three children would call just to complain about each other or report a fight at home.

"It was supposed to be used for emergencies," she said, "not to complain."

"Did you ever call your voicemail and have a voice message from Ray Turner?" her attorney asked.

"Not that I can remember, no," Wiggan said.

After the trial recessed Wednesday, Wiggan's lawyer said he would present witnesses who will testify that they repeatedly accessed Wiggan's office voicemail. He also said he will call other former co-workers who will attest to her devotion to the company where she worked for 33 years before being fired in March as a result of the federal probe.

Prosecutors declined to comment about the day's testimony. They are scheduled to cross-examine Wiggan today.

greg.krikorian@latimes.com

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