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Testimony gets teary

After a few days of dry facts, emotions flow at the Pellicano trial.

March 29, 2008|Carla Hall | Times Staff Writer

Oh, the tear-stained witness stand.

After a few days of dry testimony about telephone circuitry and software encryption, the tears flowed Friday in the federal wiretapping and racketeering trial of Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano and four co-defendants.

Former telephone company employee Teresa Wright finished a second emotional day describing her unauthorized phone record searches, the thousands of dollars she accepted for them and her agreement to help the government with its case against retired phone company technician Rayford Turner by taping her telephone conversations with him. (At every turn of testimony in this trial, someone is supposedly taping someone else for some reason.)

And former client Suzan Hughes told of hiring Pellicano in 1997 to investigate her then-husband, wealthy Herbalife founder Mark Hughes.

Pellicano "had given me an affirmative that my. . . ," she said, pausing as she teared up. "Mark had cheated on me."

Hughes, who wore her long, streaked blond hair pulled back, testified that she continued to pay Pellicano through her subsequent divorce proceedings and that the private detective continued to investigate her ex-husband. Hughes said that, at one point, on a visit to Pellicano's office, he played for her a tape of her sister's husband talking to Mark Hughes.

She said she heard her brother-in-law, whom she believed to be sympathetic to her, tell Mark Hughes, "I'm on your side."

Later, Chad Hummel, the defense attorney representing a co-defendant, former LAPD Sgt. Mark Arneson, quizzed Hughes on whether she knew the origins of the recording of her husband and brother-in-law.

"Did you ask Mr. Pellicano directly how he got it?" he asked.

"I believe so," she said. But she added that she couldn't remember his response. "I was in a state of shock," she said of her reaction to the recording. Hughes also said she never authorized Pellicano to wiretap her husband.

The Hughes' divorce was finalized in 1998. Suzan Hughes said she paid Pellicano the following year to investigate Darcy LaPier (who ended up becoming her ex-husband's next wife) because "I was concerned for my son's safety."

Mark Hughes was found dead in the bedroom of his Malibu home by LaPier in May 2000.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office ruled his death the result of an accidental, lethal combination of alcohol and an antidepressant.

After the prosecutor asked Hughes if she ever authorized Pellicano to tape his telephone conversations with her -- no, she said -- he played what he said was just such a tape. In a conversation that sounded like a snippet of soap opera dialogue, Pellicano urged Hughes to get on with her life in the aftermath of the divorce and her ex-husband's death.

"I can't just go on with my life," she said loudly.

Pellicano described how her ex-husband's health had eroded.

"With all the Viagra he was taking. . . ."

"They didn't find any Viagra," she interrupted.

"It was all over the place," Pellicano insisted.

"How do you know?"

"You know how I know," he said.

"No, I don't," she replied.

"I'm not going to discuss this over the phone," he said.

Hughes left the courtroom with her two lawyers. "The most important thing is that she never authorized nor asked for any wiretaps," said attorney Gloria Allred, standing at Hughes' side outside the courtroom.

Asked what she was doing now, Hughes brightened. "I have a product, Rollermax. It's a panacea for all your aches and pains," she said of the massage-type device.

On a less emotional note, Keith Carradine testified about harassment he said he and his then-girlfriend, Hayley DuMond -- now his wife -- experienced during his contentious child-support litigation with his ex-wife, Sandra, in 2001. Someone attempted to break into the trailer where he lived, and DuMond found the tires of her car slashed.

He also had problems with the land-line phone in his trailer, he said. "The phone line went dead. I called the phone company to report I couldn't get a dial tone," said the actor. He said the phone company sent someone to fix the line.

But it wasn't until Carradine read a 2006 Vanity Fair story about the Pellicano case that he started to put things together, he said.

"I realized I was probably a victim," he said.

Sandra Carradine has admitted lying about Pellicano's alleged wiretapping of her ex-husband.

Keith Carradine, tan and fit in a suit and red tie, chatted with prosecutors and sipped bottled water during a break in his testimony. The actor is known for his roles in the movie "Nashville" and, more recently, the HBO series "Deadwood."

In other testimony, Richard Campau, an assistant to Pellicano from 1998 to 2001, said the private investigator was in almost daily phone contact during that time with two men who are now among his co-defendants: Turner, the retired telephone company technician accused of helping Pellicano with the wiretaps, and Arneson, the former LAPD sergeant accused of illegally accessing confidential LAPD databases.

Campau estimated that he handled 200 of Pellicano's files during the time he worked for him. Asked how many of those contained criminal or police records obtained by Arneson, Campau replied: "75%."

--

carla.hall@latimes.com

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