The case of the shattered windshield, a dead fish and a rose is finally moving forward.
Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano and his alleged hired hand, Alexander Proctor, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that they threatened reporter Anita Busch in 2002 to scare her off a story.
Pellicano and Proctor, both 65, were charged four years ago in the threat on Busch's life. Busch, who was then working for the Los Angeles Times, found the fish with a rose in its mouth on the broken windshield of her car along with a sign reading "Stop," court documents allege. The windshield was punctured and made to appear like a bullet hole, prosecutors wrote in the complaint against the two men.
Los Angeles County district attorney's spokeswoman Jane Robison said the case was called for arraignment this week because Proctor, who is serving a 10-year sentence on an unrelated federal drug conviction, made a demand for a speedy trial. Pellicano, who is acting as his own attorney, as he did in his two federal criminal trials, showed up in court wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and a pair of sunglasses because of an eye condition, Robison said.
The case against Pellicano and Proctor was put on hold while the closely watched federal trial against Pellicano and his accomplices moved through the courts. At the conclusion of that trial in December, Pellicano was sentenced to 15 years in prison on a long list of federal wiretapping and racketeering charges. Both Pellicano and Proctor were transferred to state custody for their arraignment.
Before the threat, Busch and former New York Times reporter Bernard Weinraub had been reporting and writing stories about former Hollywood super agent Michael Ovitz. Busch has sued Pellicano, Ovitz and others in civil court.
It was the threat against Busch that triggered the unraveling of Pellicano's investigations business. Proctor told an FBI informant that he had been hired by Pellicano to threaten Busch; based on that statement, authorities obtained a warrant to raid the investigator's Sunset Boulevard office. There, they found the extensive computer files that led to a wide-reaching grand jury investigation into Pellicano's illegal wiretapping enterprise.
Authorities initially charged Proctor in federal court, but dropped the charges after determining they did not have jurisdiction. State prosecutors took over the case and charged Proctor in 2003 with making a criminal threat. They filed an additional case in 2005 charging Pellicano with conspiracy and making a criminal threat, and Proctor with an additional conspiracy count.
If convicted, the men face maximum sentences of three years. They were ordered back in court June 25, Robison said.