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Here We Go Again: New Trial for Anthony Pellicano


Yesterday Anthony Pellicano, the former Private Eye to the Stars,

was brought out of a prison cell and

ordered by Superior Court Judge William Pounders to stand trial with

co-defendant Alex Proctor against charges they colluded to intimidate

former L.A. Times Hollywood correspondent Anita Busch. Pellicano was convicted in two 2008 of intercepting

private phone calls on behalf of mostly rich and powerful clients. He

was sentenced last December by U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer to 15 years on dozens of

racketeering and conspiracy charges, although the fallout from those

trials is still being felt whenever a cooperating federal witness comes

before Fischer for sentencing.

Monday, former record-company

executive Robert Pfeifer, a onetime client of Pellicano's, was

sentenced to time served, community service and a $5,000 fine for his aiding and abetting Pellicano in exchange for his

previous testimony against the detective.

The Anita Busch

trial will play out downtown in Superior Court, where Pellicano

and Proctor are to be arraigned August 18. This is the story of Busch

finding a dead fish with a rose in its mouth on her Audi in June, 2002 -- allegedly a warning

to Busch to cease reporting on the declining fortunes of Hollywood

executive Michael Ovitz. Busch, who in Pellicano's record books was

referred to as "Catholic Girl Reporter," gave emotional testimony

about her ordeal at the two previous trials. At the time of the dead

fish incident, however, suspicion immediately fell upon actor Steven Seagal,

about whose alleged Mafia contacts Busch was also writing.

Pellicano

is charged with hiring Proctor, then a former convict who is now

serving a separate drug sentence, to scare Busch off the Ovitz stories

she was writing.

The attack on her car, along with indications that her phone line was

being accessed by an outside party, brought the FBI into the case to

join the LAPD investigation. Eventually Pellicano, who was then serving

time in Terminal Island prison for keeping plastic explosives in his

office, was connected with the alleged intimidation of Busch.

As narratives of Hollywood dirty tricks and power run amok, the first

two Pellicano trials never captured the popular imagination. Although

some red carpet faces appeared on the witness stand (Chris Rock, Keith

Carradine), most of the cast was too old and too "insider" to be of

interest to celebrity followers. This new trial will probably rate even

less public attention (think of it as the court version of Godfather III),

especially since the two defendants are looking at relatively light

maximum sentences of three years apiece for the conspiracy and

criminal-threatmaking counts they each face.

Still, in some ways the "Busch trial" might make for the most exciting,

given its narrow focus, compact narrative and screenplay-like story arc

of a woman being menaced and betrayed by unseen, unknowable forces.

And, most important for shortened attention spans, it promises to be

over quickly compared to the first trial.


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