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Perjury Trial of Ex-SBC Worker Goes to Jury

Joann Wiggan is accused of lying to a grand jury looking into investigator Anthony Pellicano.

September 23, 2006|Greg Krikorian | Times Staff Writer

Alleging a long pattern of deception, a federal prosecutor Friday urged a Los Angeles jury to convict a former SBC employee of perjury for repeatedly lying about her contacts with a key figure in the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping investigation.

Without linking her directly to the larger case, Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel Saunders charged that admitted misstatements by Joann Wiggan to a federal grand jury were intentional and clearly aimed at hiding some aspect of her relationship with co-worker Ray Turner.

He has been indicted with Pellicano and others for allegedly providing the private investigator with confidential telephone records used in wiretapping.

"This defendant has changed her story time and time again to fit what she thinks the government can prove," Saunders told the jury as the four-day trial before U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer drew toward a close. "Her credibility is nonexistent."

Saunders said a detailed log of phone calls to and from Wiggan's home, office and cellphones between late 1998 and 2002 proved she was lying to the grand jury when she said she had no contact with Turner and had not begun using her office voicemail until sometime in 2003.

The logs showed more than 1,000 calls from Wiggan's phone numbers to her voicemail, 117 calls from Turner's number to her office voicemail and other calls between numbers assigned to Turner and Wiggan.

The prosecutor also alleged that her lies began even before her grand jury testimony when she told the FBI in an October 2004 interview that she had not spoken to Turner in years. "That is not a memory failure," Saunders said. "That is a coverup."

But Wiggan's attorney, David R. Reed, portrayed the heart of the government's case as its greatest vulnerability, arguing that the phone logs were meaningless without knowing who had made the calls or what the calls were about.

In earlier testimony, Wiggan's son and ex-husband said they had made numerous calls to her office voicemail. And the government's witnesses acknowledged that they had no recordings of the calls or other evidence to establish who made the calls or their content.

"They don't even have one voicemail message from Ray Turner," Reed said Friday. "How can you convict someone when you don't even know what the voicemail message was [about]?"

As his client rocked slowly in her chair, Reed noted that the 52-year-old mother of three had acknowledged mistakes in her testimony before the grand jury. The attorney also reminded the jury that Wiggan herself asked to return to the grand jury early this year to correct her misstatements about not accessing her voicemail before 2003.

"Miss Wiggan had nothing to hide. She wanted to answer all the questions," Reed said of her appearances without an attorney before the grand jury. "Why would she do that if she was really guilty?"

Reed urged the jury to consider that Wiggan had no reason to mislead the grand jury about the telephone calls unless she had been involved in the alleged Turner and Pellicano wiretapping crimes.

And, Reed argued, the government had provided no evidence that they even suspected her of such involvement because they had never searched her home, subpoenaed bank records or taken any of the standard investigative steps that would prove such complicity.

The government, Reed said, had been "stumbling over" the element of intent ever since they charged Wiggan with perjury.

In his rebuttal, prosecutor Saunders said that Reed's arguments were clever but off the mark because Wiggan had been charged with perjury, not aiding Pellicano and Turner in their alleged criminal enterprise.

Even without knowing what the calls were about, Saunders said, authorities had proved Wiggan lied when she was questioned before the grand jury. Whether or not the calls were innocuous, the prosecutor said, "it is the very existence of the phone calls that make her guilty."

The jury deliberations, which began late Friday morning, are scheduled to resume Monday.

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