According to the affidavit, Proctor said Seagal had hired Pellicano to threaten the writer, and Pellicano had turned to Proctor to do the job. Proctor said "they wanted. . . to make it look like the Italians were putting the hit on her so it wouldn't reflect on Seagal," the affidavit states.
Seagal said he felt blindsided. He said his attorneys asked the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office for a copy of the affidavit, which was rejected by the judge, and were told they could not have one, because it was under seal.
"I asked them why the media was allowed to review it but I couldn't," Seagal said.
He said authorities gave the following explanation: The affidavit was not leaked to the media but, rather, was mistakenly placed in a public court file, where reporters found it.
"Do you believe it was an accident that this secret document was placed in a public file?" Seagal asked recently. "I don't."
A second affidavit filed by Ornellas under seal in federal court in November 2002 repeated the allegations about Seagal's involvement in the threat against Busch. The new affidavit also implicated Seagal in a separate threat against a writer for Vanity Fair magazine who was also working on an article on the actor. The writer, Ned Zeman, had reported that an unidentified man had pointed a gun at him and said: "Stop!" The affidavit said a source had told Ornellas the man was John Rottger, a former Navy SEAL and longtime friend of Seagal.
The affidavit did not lay out corroborating evidence for these assertions. Its purpose was to show that there was probable cause to justify a search of Pellicano's Sunset Boulevard office.
Based on the affidavit, a judge granted a search warrant, and on Nov. 21, 2002, more than a dozen FBI agents searched Pellicano's office.
There is no indication they found any evidence implicating Seagal or Rottger, who, like the actor, has denied any involvement in the threats.
The agents did, however, find two hand grenades, plastic explosives and bundles of cash in Pellicano's safe. The detective was arrested on weapons and related charges.
Jan L. Handzlik, one of Seagal's attorneys, said he contacted Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel A. Saunders, a lead prosecutor in the case, and volunteered information indicating that Seagal and Pellicano were antagonists and therefore unlikely co-conspirators.
The information related not to their falling-out in the early 1990s but to a more recent controversy. In the summer of 2002, Pellicano and Seagal were on opposite sides in a bitter legal dispute. A law firm that claimed Seagal had failed to pay $260,000 in fees had hired Pellicano to collect the money.
"Those two guys hated each other with a passion. This I experienced firsthand," said entertainment lawyer Martin D. Singer, who has worked with both men and who represented Seagal in the fee dispute.
Handzlik said he also told Saunders several times that Seagal would appear for questioning with no preconditions and that the actor was not seeking immunity. Handzlik said the prosecutor turned down the offers.
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, declined to comment.
Seagal contends that authorities showed no interest because they knew the allegations against him were groundless.
"The FBI didn't want to know," he said. "It would've been very easy to prove if Pellicano was calling me or if I was calling him. The FBI subpoenas phone records every day. Why not mine? You have to ask yourself: If there was enough probable cause to raid Pellicano, why not raid me too?"
As months passed, Seagal said, he grew frustrated, his reputation clouded by suspicions he felt powerless to dispel. Authorities had neither charged nor exonerated him. They had not even questioned him in the Pellicano case, he said.