Attorneys at Law Firm in Pellicano Case May Leave
Two top attorneys with a Century City law firm at the center of a federal racketeering investigation into alleged wrongdoing by Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano will soon leave to establish a new practice.
Dale F. Kinsella and Howard L. Weitzman are expected to take seven attorneys with them when they exit Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman, Machtinger & Kinsella in mid-April, according to sources within the firm.
Greenberg Glusker declined to comment Thursday. Weitzman would say only that he, Kinsella and the others are considering the move.
“If we do, it is because we want to go back to practicing in a smaller environment,” Weitzman said in a statement, adding that the decision has nothing to do with the federal probe. “As I’ve said publicly before, I do not believe any Greenberg Glusker lawyer has acted inappropriately, nor do I think anyone from the firm will be so charged.”
Greenberg Glusker was thrust into the spotlight amid allegations that Pellicano and others committed wiretapping and other illegal acts while working on a number of cases, some of which involved the firm’s clients.
A 110-count federal indictment last month accused Pellicano and six others of conspiring to blackmail and intimidate dozens of celebrities, business executives and others in what prosecutors have described as a conspiracy to gain tactical advantage in litigation.
So far, 13 people have been charged, including an entertainment lawyer, a record company executive, two former police officers and several telephone company employees. Four have admitted to charges stemming from hiring Pellicano or helping him conduct illegal investigations.
Federal agents have been particularly interested in Pellicano’s association with prominent Greenberg attorney Bert Fields, who hired the private detective numerous times over the past two decades, including in a legal dispute involving comedian Garry Shandling and Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey. Fields has publicly acknowledged that he is a subject of the investigation.
Last month, Fields’ attorney agreed to extend the deadline for prosecutors to decide whether to file charges against the 76-year-old Fields, one of the most successful lawyers in Hollywood.
One purported victim in the Pellicano case was also linked to one of Kinsella’s clients, the late financier Leonard Green, whom Kinsella represented in a bitter divorce. Pellicano’s indictment alleges that Green’s wife, Jude, was among those whose personal information was accessed illegally.
Brian Sun, the attorney representing Greenberg Glusker, has said that neither the firm nor any of its attorneys engaged in any illegal activity.
Kinsella joined Greenberg Glusker as a name partner when 12 lawyers moved to the firm in 2000 from Kinsella Boesch Fujikawa & Towle. At the time, Greenberg Glusker hailed the arrival of Kinsella and the others as a defining moment for the firm.
“We are now the entertainment juggernaut in California, if not the country,” the firm said at the time.
A 1974 graduate of UCLA Law School, Kinsella has represented athletes, celebrities and movie studios.
His clients have included Rob Lowe, whom he represented in 1989 when the actor was videotaped in a hotel room with a teenage girl and a woman. A lawsuit filed by the girl’s mother was settled out of court and no criminal charges were filed.
Kinsella’s other high-profile clients have included boxer Mike Tyson; actors George Wendt and John Ratzenberger of “Cheers” and entertainment icon Dick Clark.
Actor James Woods sought Kinsella’s counsel when he sued actress Sean Young for $2 million, accusing her of sending photos or other “graphic representations” of “deceased persons, dead animals, gore, mutilation and other images” to the actor and his then-fiancee. The lawsuit was settled in 1989.
In May 2005, Kinsella brought in Weitzman, a veteran Hollywood attorney who gained prominence in the 1980s with his successful defense of automaker John DeLorean against fraud and drug charges, the case credited with launching Pellicano’s career in Los Angeles.
Weitzman’s other high-profile clients have included Marlon Brando and Earvin “Magic” Johnson. In the early 1990s, Weitzman teamed for a time with Fields to defend pop star Michael Jackson against child molestation allegations.