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Ex-music exec pleads guilty in Pellicano case

Hired celebrity sleuth to illegally eavesdrop on his ex-girlfriend
/ Source: Reuters

Former music industry executive Robert Pfeifer Friday became the latest person to plead guilty in connection with the Hollywood wiretap investigation surrounding one-time celebrity sleuth Anthony Pellicano.

Pfeifer, who served as president of Walt Disney Co.’s Hollywood Records label in the mid-1990s, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a charge he hired Pellicano to illegally eavesdrop on an ex-girlfriend.

The former record executive remains in custody in lieu of a $1 million bond. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said he expected Pfiefer to deed over his house next week to secure the bond and win release while he awaits sentencing, which was set for June 26.

The charge, a felony count of wiretapping, is punishable by up to five years in federal prison, the spokesman, Tom Mrozek, said. Prosecutors agreed to drop a second charge accusing Pfeifer of intimidating a witness.

Pfeifer is one of 14 people charged -- and the fourth to plead guilty -- in a far-reaching federal probe of Pellicano that has grown into a major Hollywood scandal and threatens to spill the motion picture community’s secrets.

The latest figure swept up in the investigation was John McTiernan, director of “The Hunt for Red October” and “Die Hard,” who was charged Monday with lying to FBI agents.

Pellicano, who has worked for some of the biggest names in Hollywood, is the principal defendant in a 110-count indictment charging him with wiretapping and obtaining confidential records of performers, journalists and business executives.

The indictment accuses the one-time gumshoe of setting up a criminal enterprise to secure clients willing to pay large sums of money to dig up incriminating or embarrassing personal information to use against their opponents in court.

Among those whose privacy Pellicano is accused of breaching through wiretaps or illicit database searchers were Sylvester Stallone, Garry Shandling and Keith Carradine.

Pellicano has pleaded not guilty to the indictment, which was returned just before he completed a 30-month term in federal prison for firearms violations. He faces up to 20 years behind bars on each of the racketeering counts against him.

Pfeifer has been jailed since his arrest in February. He was ordered to remain in custody after prosecutors presented evidence that he had contemplated fleeing or committing suicide to avoid facing charges. Mrozek said prosecutors agreed on Friday that Pfeifer could be freed on bond because he no longer poses a flight risk but declined to elaborate.