After nine weeks of watching everyone in a federal courtroom (the judge included) rise from their seats when they entered or exited, the jury in the trial of Anthony Pellicano retired to their enclave Thursday to begin deliberating charges against the private eye and his four co-defendants.
The jurors promptly elected a leader and sent a note to the judge informing her of that and more: “Their lunch order,” said Judge Dale S. Fischer with a smile, glancing at the pieces of paper she was handed. They deliberated but left without returning a verdict.
They must decide 78 counts against Pellicano and the co-defendants accused of helping him in what the government described as an illegal information-gathering scheme. The charges on the table include racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud, identity theft, bribery and -- the accusation that has made Pellicano infamous -- wiretapping the rich and famous, including Garry Shandling, Keith Carradine and developer Robert Maguire.
Defense attorneys -- and Pellicano, who is representing himself -- have insisted in their closing arguments that there was no criminal enterprise, no conspiracy, nothing to aid and abet. Their clients, several of the attorneys argued Wednesday and Thursday, were clueless or duped.
Ray Turner, a former telephone company field technician, had neither the access nor the expertise to set up actual wiretaps, his attorney, Mona Soo Hoo, argued Thursday. He was just the “phone guy,” earning extra money by going to Pellicano’s office to do “wiring, trouble-shooting, phone jack work, sweeping for wiretaps.”
Mark Arneson, the former Los Angeles police officer accused of making 2,500 inquiries on illegally accessed law enforcement databases to help Pellicano get information for his clients, has admitted he made those runs. But his attorney, Chad Hummel, said he knew neither why Pellicano wanted the names nor whether he was wiretapping and harassing people. Pellicano paid him, Hummel argued, for legitimate security work.
Computer expert Kevin Kachikian, who wrote the code for the software that Pellicano is accused of using, believed Pellicano when he told him that TeleSleuth would be sold only to law enforcement agencies, said his attorney, Adam Braun.
And Lawrence Semenza, attorney for Abner Nicherie, a former Las Vegas businessman charged with one count, suggested that there was more to know about businessman Ami Shafrir. Nicherie is charged with aiding Pellicano in recording Shafrir’s conversations.
“Who is the mystery man? And where is he?” Semenza asked.
Given the last word, Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel Saunders scoffed at Pellicano’s contention that he was a lone ranger informing no one of his activities. “He shared with client after client what he did and could do,” Saunders told the jury. Now, “he wants you to think he withheld that same information from his codefendants?”