A Hollywood film director who pleaded guilty three years ago to lying to the FBI in connection with the Anthony Pellicano investigation, then withdrew his plea, was indicted Friday by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles.
John McTiernan faces two counts of making false statements to federal agents and one count of perjury for a statement to a federal judge while seeking to withdraw his plea, federal authorities said.
McTiernan, who directed the action thriller “Die Hard,” was one of seven people who pleaded guilty to charges connected to the Pellicano case before it went to trial last year. Before he was sentenced, McTiernan asked the judge to allow him to withdraw his plea, arguing that he would not have agreed to plead guilty if his attorney at the time had given him better legal advice.
The judge denied the request, but McTiernan filed an appeal with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ordered the lower court to hold a hearing to consider the director’s request. The court ultimately granted the request after the U.S. attorney’s office said it did not oppose withdrawal of the plea.
Friday’s indictment contains the charges to which McTiernan had earlier agreed to plead guilty, as well as a new charge of lying in court proceedings, in which he sought to change his plea, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel Saunders.
McTiernan’s attorney, S. Todd Neal, questioned prosecutors’ motives in adding the new charge.
“There seems to be retribution because John refused to play ball the way the prosecutors wanted and because we were successful on appeal,” Neal said. “We will vigorously defend this case.”
Pellicano was convicted of wiretapping producer Charles Roven on McTiernan’s behalf. During the job, the private detective complained -- in a taped phone conversation in 2000 -- about having to listen to a huge volume of calls to get useful information.
“You can’t have the thing on there listening for particular words or names?” asked McTiernan.
“Nah, nah, nah,” Pellicano said. “That’s in the movies.”