A now-retired FBI agent was grilled Friday on why he didn't investigate legitimate jobs former Los Angeles Police Sgt. Mark Arneson may have worked for Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano.
Arneson, 54, in earlier testimony admitted that he did "cross the line" by snooping in police files for Pellicano, who is on trial on wiretapping and racketeering charges. Arneson maintained that the $195,000 Pellicano paid him was for legal services, including guarding the detective's Hollywood clients.
"What did you do personally . . . to verify or not verify what Mr. Arneson did for Mr. Pellicano?" Arneson's attorney, Chad Hummel, asked Stanley Ornellas, who was the FBI's lead investigator on the Pellicano case.
"My investigation focused on the criminal aspect," Ornellas replied.
Prosecutors, who also have charged Arneson with racketeering, allege that Pellicano paid the former officer for running 2,500 unauthorized DMV and criminal history records on more than 300 people targeted by the private investigator.
Hummel also called to the stand Arneson's former colleagues from the LAPD's Pacific Division, who vouched for his expertise in investigating bookmaking and prostitution rings. Arneson, during his own testimony, told the jury he gave Pellicano information in exchange for tips on bookmaking and organized crime.
Officer Karena Rowan testified that Arneson, who was her supervisor, was "protective" and "always looked out for my best interest."
But Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel Saunders quickly tried to knock Arneson off the pedestal. "If you were to learn, Officer Rowan, that your protector Sgt. Arneson had disclosed the existence of your undercover investigation and your name to Anthony Pellicano . . . would that change your opinion?" Saunders asked.
"Yes," Rowan replied.
Late Friday, Pellicano, who is acting as his own attorney, also had his shot at Ornellas. But his slow and scattered questioning drew objection after objection from prosecutors. U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer warned Pellicano to sharpen his presentation.
"Don't repeat what we've already heard," she told Pellicano. " . . . You need to focus your questions."
The 64-year-old former private investigator also told the court he may yet testify in his own defense, although he didn't give a date. Pellicano had rested his case last week after calling one witness but reserved the right to take the stand later.
"There are some things that need to be learned, and there are some things that need to be resolved," he said.
Also on Friday, Fischer denied an attempt by attorney Terry Christensen to bar journalist Allison Hope Weiner from placing secretly recorded tapes of Pellicano's conversations with various clients, including Chris Rock, on the Huffington Post website.
The judge said she didn't believe Christensen's contention that the tapes would taint the jury pool for an upcoming wiretapping and conspiracy trial he faces with Pellicano.