Pellicano Sought Prison ‘Hit,’ U.S. Alleges
Federal prosecutors alleged Monday that Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano recently conspired with known mobsters in Chicago to put a prison “hit” on the man he allegedly hired to threaten a Los Angeles Times reporter.
The hit, according to court papers, was allegedly aimed at Alexander Proctor, an ex-convict who was arrested for placing a dead fish with a rose in its mouth and a sign that said “Stop” on the windshield of reporter Anita Busch’s car in the summer of 2002.
When an FBI informant later surfaced with Proctor on tape boasting that he was working for Pellicano, federal authorities used the recording to obtain a warrant to search Pellicano’s Sunset Boulevard office in November 2002. That search triggered the ongoing racketeering and wiretapping probe that has much of Hollywood in its thrall.
So far, Pellicano and six others, including Hollywood lawyer Terry Christensen, have been indicted for allegedly using illegal background checks and wiretaps to dig up dirt on adversaries, typically in civil and criminal litigation. All deny the charges.
Director John McTiernan of “Die Hard” fame and five others have pleaded guilty.
The timing and nature of the alleged attempt to put a prison hit on Proctor was not revealed Monday in court papers that were filed by prosecutors. The papers opposed an earlier motion by Pellicano’s attorney to compel authorities to turn over additional evidence.
But records and interviews show that Proctor, 62, was moved in recent months from a federal prison in Greenville, Ill., to a federal facility in southeast Georgia, where he continues to serve a 10-year sentence for drug trafficking.
They also show that the purported plot was uncovered early this year when Pellicano was about to be released from a prison near Bakersfield on explosives charges stemming from the November 2002 search of his office, where FBI agents found two illegally modified hand grenades and C4 plastic explosives.
A 112-count indictment filed against Pellicano, Christensen and other defendants in February alleged that they used wiretaps and illegal background checks to obtain “confidential, embarrassing or incriminating” information, typically to help attorneys and other clients gain an advantage in civil or criminal litigation.
Since then, authorities have charged that Pellicano should not be released on bail because he posed a threat to potential witnesses. But it was not until Monday’s allegation regarding the mob hit on Proctor that government prosecutors provided any details.
Opposing the motion by Pellicano’s attorney to seek additional evidence to prepare his defense, prosecutors Daniel Saunders and Kevin Lally said they believed that Pellicano’s real motive was to ascertain what Proctor had told authorities in connection with the threat against Busch.
Additional information should not be turned over, they said, because authorities have evidence that Pellicano contacted known organized crime figures with the goal of preventing Proctor from testifying against him.
Pellicano’s attorney, Steven Gruel, said he was notified of the alleged threat Friday but was provided with no specific evidence by the government. He said the government accusation is only the latest in a string of allegations that Pellicano has been threatening others.
“This seems to be a common thread for the prosecution, that Mr. Pellicano is making threats against witnesses,” Gruel said. “And yet I have not seen any evidence of it whatsoever.
“So, am I surprised that this is surfacing now as one of the government’s justifications for refusing to provide material for the defense? Frankly not,” Gruel said.
During Pellicano’s arraignment in February, Saunders alleged in court that the private investigator had asked his onetime girlfriend, Sandra Wil Carradine, to track down Proctor.
Carradine was secretly cooperating with authorities late last year when she visited Pellicano in prison. She has since pleaded guilty to perjury in the case.
“ ‘If something happens to Proctor, he couldn’t testify against me,’ ” Saunders quoted Pellicano as allegedly telling Carradine.
Proctor’s connection to Pellicano first surfaced in 2002 when he allegedly admitted on tape to a government informant that he had made a criminal threat against Busch, then working for The Times as a Hollywood reporter.
At the time, Busch was researching actor Steven Seagal’s problems with organized crime figures in New York.
According to court documents, Proctor told the informant that he had been hired by Pellicano to firebomb Busch’s car to get her to back off the Seagal story.
Though Proctor told the informant that Pellicano had hired him on Seagal’s behalf, authorities have found no convincing evidence that the actor was involved.
Instead of blowing up Busch’s car, investigators said, Proctor placed the dead fish, the rose and the note that said “Stop” on her windshield, concluding that the car was too close to her apartment building to firebomb without risking a conflagration.
In their court papers Monday, prosecutors said the alleged threat against Proctor is now the focus of a federal investigation that might result in additional criminal charges.