Director John McTiernan was charged Monday with lying to the FBI, becoming the first entertainment industry figure accused in the unfolding federal investigation of wiretapping and other alleged wrongdoing by Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano.
In a two-page charging document, federal prosecutors alleged that McTiernan, 55, whose directing credits include “Predator” and “Die Hard,” lied about having hired Pellicano to wiretap veteran film producer Charles Roven.
McTiernan denied any knowledge of wiretapping by Pellicano in a Feb. 13 interview with FBI agents, prosecutors alleged, even though he hired and paid the infamous private eye to wiretap Roven.
The charging document does not indicate when Roven was allegedly wiretapped, why it happened or how much Pellicano was paid. McTiernan and Roven were producers of the 2002 movie flop “Rollerball,” which McTiernan directed.
McTiernan is the 14th individual charged in the burgeoning investigation of Pellicano, who is accused of directing a racketeering enterprise that unlawfully wiretapped and conducted illegal background checks on dozens of celebrities and executives, including actor Sylvester Stallone, comedians Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon and real estate developer Robert Maguire.
McTiernan is scheduled for an arraignment April 17 on a charge that carries a maximum five-year penalty.
With the investigation roiling legal and entertainment circles, the charge against McTiernan seemed to come from nowhere and indicates that the inquiry is rapidly developing new investigative avenues as prosecutors continue sorting through mounds of documents and hours of tape recordings seized from Pellicano’s office.
McTiernan’s name was not among a shortlist of Hollywood lawyers and entertainment figures thought to be among those facing possible indictment.
That Roven was not among a list of 81 individuals named as Pellicano’s victims in the latest 110-count indictment also shows that the breadth of Pellicano’s alleged activities has not been fully revealed.
McTiernan was born in Albany, N.Y., and attended the Juilliard School before moving to Los Angeles, where he studied at the American Film Institute.
He built his reputation as a bold stylist in action films, directing a string of successes beginning with “Predator,” a 1987 feature starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the leader of a commando squad hunted by an extraterrestrial warrior.
McTiernan followed with two other hits, “Die Hard” and “The Hunt for Red October,” before turning out a couple of early 1990s duds, “Medicine Man” and “Last Action Hero,” the latter also starring Schwarzenegger. In 2002, McTiernan directed another flop, “Rollerball,” on which both he and Roven were producers.
McTiernan is in preproduction on his latest action-adventure, “Crash Bandits,” which involves the hunt for treasure aboard a plane downed in the jungle.
Roven, who is with Mosaic Media group, has a number of producing credits dating to the 1970s, including “Batman Begins,” “Twelve Monkeys” and “Heart Like a Wheel.”
Last month, federal prosecutors disclosed in court that they expected at least one more indictment by mid-April in connection with the Pellicano case. But federal sources said Monday that the charge against McTiernan was not the one they had referred to, meaning there are more indictments to come.
Charging McTiernan in a so-called information rather than in grand jury indictment means he has waived his right to an indictment and suggests that he has reached either a plea agreement with prosecutors or some sort of cooperating agreement.
Neither McTiernan nor his attorney, John Carlton, returned phone calls Monday seeking comment.
A spokesman for Roven said he would have no comment about the charges against McTiernan.
Without offering any hint about why the director would allegedly hire Pellicano, the charging document alleges that McTiernan lied about the relationship two days before the grand jury indicted prominent entertainment attorney Terry Christensen on Feb. 15.
Christensen’s indictment made public the existence of tape recordings Pellicano made of conversations he had with a client -- recordings McTiernan would not have known about at the time of his FBI interview.
The decision to charge McTiernan, six weeks after he allegedly lied to FBI agents, also suggests he has been cooperating for some time with the federal investigation, one longtime Los Angeles attorney said.
“I think they would be trying to send a message to the other people they are talking to out there: When they come knocking on your door, tell the truth or don’t talk at all,” said the attorney, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation.
Beyond promising at least one more indictment, federal prosecutors have yet to signal their next move. A status conference is scheduled in the case later this month.
Prosecutors have said that they expect within days to begin releasing information about the original search warrants at Pellicano’s offices in late 2002 and early 2003 that touched off the current investigation.
Meanwhile, a Century City law firm at the center of the investigation confirmed Monday that two of its top attorneys are leaving to establish a new practice, a move reported Friday by The Times.
Dale F. Kinsella and Howard L. Weitzman will take about eight other attorneys with them when they leave Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman, Machtinger & Kinsella, the firm said in a statement.
“While the five years we spent together were enjoyable and profitable, Dale and Howard ultimately decided to return to the smaller-firm environment focused almost entirely on litigation. We wish them the best,” managing partner Norman Levine said.
Levine added: “The decision to depart is unrelated to the pending investigation of Anthony Pellicano. As we have stated repeatedly, none of our attorneys had knowledge of any improper conduct by Mr. Pellicano, and both the attorneys remaining with the firm and those who are leaving are confident that there was no wrongdoing on the part of our colleagues.”
Times staff writer Henry Weinstein and Times research librarian Vicki Gallay contributed to this report.