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Phone Talk at Pellicano Trial

Tuesday was Ray Turner’s day in court, although he elected not to take the witness stand on his own behalf. Turner, the “phone guy” co-defendant in the Anthony Pellicano racketeering trial, easily wears the casual coolness of a BET executive, and sat impassively through most of today’s testimony. His witnesses, orchestrated by attorney Mona Soo Hoo, were intended to show that any number of the retired Turner’s former telephone company colleagues could have placed the wiretaps on L.A. Times journo Anita Busch – taps that eventually led the FBI to Pellicano’s Sunset Boulevard office. Sometimes, when a friend showed up to testify, a smile would spread across Turner’s face.

One such pal was Barry Barnett, a phone-company employee who removed his black leather jacket when he sat down in the witness chair. Barnett said that he’d known Turner 18 years yet had not discussed the case against Turner with him.

Barnett seemed a little surprised when his turn on the stand ended after 25 painless minutes.

“This is not no Judge Judy,” he said as he put his jacket back on. “It’s Perry Mason all the way up in here!”

Another friend of Turner’s, Alphonse Arnold, testified how he had tagged along with Turner to learn the tricks of the phone trade.

“Yes I do know T,” he told Soo Hoo, adding that the two often met at a gym or played basketball together. Arnold later affirmed that, indeed, Turner regularly threw parties at his home, where the chicken dishes of ex-phone company employee Teresa Wright were featured. Wright, who has been identified as a person who helped him supply confidential billing information to Pellicano, “was known for her chicken,” Arnold said. Soo Hoo also got him to say that Wright was paid by Turner for her catering services.

Party pooper Kevin Lally, taking the government cross-examination of Arnold, asked him coldly, “Did you ever see defendant Turner provide her with $700 for a chicken?” FBI witness Stanley Ornellas testified earlier that morning that Wright had been paid between $8,000 to $10,000 for her non-catering services and Lally seemed intent not to allow jurors to be lulled into believing most of that money was for wings and drumsticks.