One of Hollywood's best-known lawyers has been questioned by the FBI in connection with a sweeping federal probe into allegedly illegal wiretaps by celebrity private investigator Anthony Pellicano.
Although attorney Bert Fields was unavailable for comment Thursday, an associate confirmed that Fields had been interviewed once by federal agents several months ago.
"We have become aware that the FBI is investigating illegal wiretapping allegedly carried out by the private detective Anthony Pellicano," attorney Norman Levine said in a statement authorized by Fields.
"Investigators apparently have spoken to a number of prominent people in the entertainment community, including Bert Fields and other attorneys who have worked with Mr. Pellicano in the past," said Levine, managing partner of Field's Century City law firm. "However, as has been reported, and as Bert has said, Bert has no idea whether Mr. Pellicano engaged in wiretapping and certainly never authorized him to do so."
Levine added: "Bert is one of the most respected lawyers in the country, and has always held himself and everyone around him to the highest ethical standards."
Last month, Pellicano pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian to illegally possessing C-4 plastic explosives and two modified hand grenades. He faces a prison term of 27 to 33 months and will be sentenced in January. The explosives were discovered a year ago when more than a dozen FBI agents raided Pellicano's Sunset Boulevard offices, searching for evidence that might link him to a threat against a Los Angeles Times reporter, Anita Busch, who had been investigating the relationship between actor Steven Seagal and a reputed mob figure.
Alexander Proctor, an ex-con with a history of narcotics arrests, has been charged with leaving a dead fish and a rose on the hood of Busch's car with a note reading, "Stop." Court documents alleged that Proctor had told an FBI informant that Pellicano had hired him to threaten the reporter. Both Pellicano and Seagal have denied any involvement in the threat.
The FBI raid on Pellicano's offices also turned up a huge number of computer files that have become the focus of a federal grand jury probe into allegations that he illegally engaged in wiretaps for some prominent attorneys.
Although several prominent attorneys in town have hired Pellicano as an investigator, Fields is the first to have publicly acknowledged being interviewed by authorities in connection with the ongoing federal investigation. Fields, whose clients have included the Beatles and Tom Cruise, has used Pellicano on a number of cases.