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Celebrity detective indicted for illegal wiretaps

Hollywood’s most famous private investigator, Anthony Pellicano, was charged with wiretapping journalists, entertainers and alleged rape victims for his clients in an indictment unsealed Monday.

Among those who were allegedly wiretapped or subjected to illegal computer searches were “Rocky” actor Sylvester Stallone, comedian Garry Shandling, former New York Times film industry correspondent Bernard Weinraub, former Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch, five women who accused software millionaire John Gordon Jones of rape, Saturday Night Live comedian Kevin Nealon and actor Keith Carradine.

Pellicano, whose clients have included top Hollywood entertainment lawyers and executives as well as celebrities such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Michael Jackson, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Monday.

The indictment also named Los Angeles Police Sgt. Mark Arneson; former Pacific Bell employee Rayford Turner; Pellicano client Robert Pfeifer; software designer Kevin Kachikian; and Las Vegas businessmen brothers Abner and Daniel Nicherie.

Pellicano and the others were charged with wiretapping and racketeering. They were accused of obtaining confidential information, through telephone eavesdropping and law enforcement data bases, on people Pellicano was hired to investigate by his celebrity-studded roster of clients.

Pellicano “was responsible for securing clients who were willing and able to pay large sums for the purpose of obtaining personal information of a confidential, embarrassing or personal nature regarding other individuals, including opponents or witnesses in criminal or civil litigation,” the indictment said.

The indictment also accused Pellicano of paying thousands of dollars in bribes to Arneson and other police officers and public officials, as well as telephone company employees to obtain information related to his cases.

Pellicano was transferred on Friday from a federal prison near Bakersfield, Calif., where he had completed a 2-1/2 year sentence for weapons possession, to face the new charges in a U.S. District Court arraignment later Monday.

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