By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Kachikian was the brain — or rather, the nerdy computer wiz who brought to life Pellicano’s idea for the TeleSleuth computer program that allowed him to tap and digitally record calls from the comfort of his Sunset Boulevard office. Kachikian was something of an anomaly: Although his co-defendants were found guilty on virtually every count with which they were charged, he was able to beat nine of the wiretapping counts he faced. Unfortunately for Kachikian, two of the charges that stuck to him — construction of an illegal wiretapping device and conspiracy — carry serious prison time. On Monday, his attorney, Adam Braun, made a pitch for Fischer to treat these crimes as “regulatory offenses” that merit only probation.
Kachikian himself read a one-page statement requesting leniency — “My blinders are off,” he said, repeating his longstanding claims that he knew nothing of Pellicano’s illegal-wiretapping activities.
Co-prosecutor Kevin Lally dismissed Kachikian’s claims of ignorance. “It’s a time-honored tradition among Pellicano defendants,” Lally said, “to deny responsibility and instead accuse others of wrongdoing.”
A tall, gentle figure with a shaved head, Kachikian had arrived this morning as though it were a kind of Casual Monday, attired in the same kind of sweater-and-khakis, sox-’n’-sandals outfit he wore during the trial. Today he even threw in a beaded necklace. It didn’t help. Fischer threw 27 months in prison Kachikian’s way and seemed to be inclined to remand him into federal custody on the spot — as she had with the other defendants after their sentencings last week.
As Braun then appealed for his client to remain free during appeal on the $100,000 bond that had allowed him to move at will during the trial, Kachikian’s wife gently wept. A woman friend who arrived in court carrying a teddy bear held the wife’s hand, while another woman sat, eyes closed, her palms opened skyward.
Judge Fischer allowed that she wasn’t taken in by the naive-computer-nerd persona Kachikian had projected, adding he had to have known TeleSleuth was intended for illegal use. She accused him of committing perjury when he testified last year, but when Kachikian’s mother, Lydia — who arrived at court in a wheelchair — told Fischer she was willing to double the amount of bond her Fountain Valley home had provided her son, the judge relented. She gave Braun a week to come up with an arrangement that would increase Kachikian’s bond as a way to allow him to remain free while he appeals his sentence. This was a gesture none of the other defendants had received. Perhaps Judge Fischer was getting warm and fuzzy without realizing it.
Just how much so will be seen by the case’s remaining suspects — all of whom escaped inclusion in Pellicano’s RICO trial by pleading out and cooperating with the government — to be sentenced next month. At the end of Monday’s hearing, Kachikian and his supporters enjoyed an emotional hug-a-thon outside Fischer’s courtroom. Clearly Adam Braun had been expecting the worst. As he put it: “I had to put on my emotional bulletproof vest.”