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‘Die Hard’ director gets a year in prison in wiretapping case

“Die Hard” director John McTiernan was sentenced to a year in federal prison Monday for lying to the FBI — and later to a federal judge — regarding his role in the wiretapping case of disgraced Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano.

McTiernan, 59, will remain free on bail pending an appeal of some issues in the case. If the appeal is denied, he will begin serving his sentence, authorities said.

Pellicano was convicted two years ago of racketeering and wiretapping. Prosecutors presented evidence at the trial that he secretly recorded movie producer Charles Roven’s phone calls on McTiernan’s behalf. Roven was producing a movie that McTiernan was directing and McTiernan had grown suspicious of the producer and wanted to keep tabs on him, prosecutors alleged.

In a recording of one of his own telephone calls in 2000 that was seized by the FBI, Pellicano can be heard complaining to McTiernan about having to listen to a huge volume of Roven’s calls to obtain useful information.

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“You can’t have the thing on there listen for particular words or names?” McTiernan asked.

“Nah, nah, nah,” Pellicano responded. “That’s in the movies.”

When questioned by the FBI, McTiernan denied hiring Pellicano to wiretap anyone on his behalf.

He pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal agents in 2006, but was allowed to withdraw his plea after arguing that he had been given bad advice by an attorney. After the plea was withdrawn last year, federal prosecutors tacked on a charge of making a false statement to a U.S. district judge during proceedings in which he withdrew the plea, alleging that he lied about his interactions with his then-attorney.

McTiernan was headed to trial this summer when he again pleaded guilty.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel Saunders, who prosecuted the case with colleague Kevin Lally, said Monday’s sentence demonstrates that, “regardless of a person’s status, lying to law enforcement and to a federal court are serious crimes that compromise the integrity of the justice system and are deserving of punishment.”

McTiernan’s lawyer, S. Todd Neal, said he has appealed the admissibility of the recording that purportedly implicates his client in the wiretapping scheme. Neal said Pellicano secretly recorded his conversation with McTiernan, which is against the law in California, and that the judge erred in ruling that the tape could be presented as evidence.

“We’re hopeful that he won’t ever serve this sentence,” Neal said.

scott.glover@latimes.com


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