Law Firm Braces for Wiretap Probe
Entertainment attorney Bert Fields’ law firm has hired a former federal prosecutor to represent its interests in a long-running wiretapping investigation involving imprisoned private detective Anthony Pellicano.
Brian Sun, a well-known white-collar criminal defense attorney, confirmed Wednesday that he had been retained by Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman, Machtinger & Kinsella. Sun declined to discuss his role. There has been no indication that the firm itself is a target of the investigation.
But Sun’s hiring suggests that Fields, the renowned entertainment lawyer whose clients have included Tom Cruise, Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, remains of interest to the federal grand jury looking into Pellicano’s activities.
U.S. Atty. Daniel Saunders revealed during a court hearing three years ago that the FBI was investigating allegations that Pellicano had engaged in illegal wiretapping on behalf of various unnamed attorneys, with the help of some rogue law enforcement officers and a telephone company insider.
News of the investigation roiled the legal community, giving rise to considerable speculation about who might be involved. Nearly two years ago, Fields disclosed that he was a “subject” of the investigation, but he denied involvement in wiretapping.
In federal legal parlance, a subject is a person under scrutiny who may or may not face criminal charges. Fields has been a longtime friend of Pellicano and has acknowledged using the detective in numerous cases.
Fields recently told The Times that he and his personal lawyer, John Keker of San Francisco, had not heard from the FBI or the U.S. attorney’s office since his disclosure.
Pellicano is serving a 30-month federal prison sentence for storing two illegal hand grenades and plastic explosives in his Sunset Strip offices.
He is scheduled to be released in February but is facing trial on new charges stemming from an alleged attempt to intimidate a Los Angeles Times reporter.
The district attorney’s office charged Pellicano in June with making threats and with criminal conspiracy, charges that could send him back to prison for 16 more months.
The allegations stemmed from a 2002 incident in which a dead fish, a rose and a sign reading, “Stop,” were placed on the windshield of reporter Anita Busch’s car.
At the time, Busch was researching a story for the The Times about actor Steve Seagal’s alleged association with a reputed New York mob figure.
An informant led the FBI to Alexander Proctor, a petty criminal. In a secretly recorded conversation, Proctor allegedly told the informant that Pellicano paid him to threaten Busch.
FBI agents later raided Pellicano’s offices, where they found the explosives and seized the detective’s vast computerized records. Some of those records were believed to contain evidence of illegal wiretapping.