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Wiretap defendant implicates Hollywood sleuth

George Kalta says he paid Anthony Pellicano to intercept phone calls
/ Source: Reuters

A California man Friday admitted paying ex-private eye Anthony Pellicano to intercept phone calls, becoming the first defendant to say in open court he hired the onetime celebrity sleuth to engage in wiretapping.

George Kalta, one of 13 people charged so far in the federal wiretap case surrounding Pellicano that has become a major scandal in Tinseltown, implicated the Hollywood gumshoe before a federal judge as he pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

The 37-year-old owner of a wholesale lighting business was accused in a U.S. District Court indictment of paying Pellicano $25,000 in 2001 to eavesdrop on a woman who had accused him of sexual assault.

“Your honor, I hired Mr. Pellicano because he told me that he could listen in to [the woman’s] phone calls in hopes that he could get a conversation proving my innocence,” Kalta said.

Kalta pleaded guilty under a deal with prosecutors, but the terms of that agreement were sealed, and it was unclear if he had agreed to cooperate in the investigation. He is expected to face about a year in prison.

Pellicano, who has worked for some of the biggest names in Hollywood, was charged in a 110-count indictment of illegally wiretapping and obtaining the confidential records of performers, journalists and business executives.

He has pleaded not guilty to the conspiracy and racketeering indictment, which was unsealed just before he completed a 30-month stretch in federal prison for firearms violations.

The former private detective faces up to 20 years behind bars on each of the racketeering charges.

Among those whose privacy he is accused of breaching through wiretaps or illicit database searches were entertainers Sylvester Stallone, Garry Shandling, Kevin Nealon and Keith Carradine, as well as billionaire Kirk Kerkorian’s ex-wife, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, and a former New York Times reporter.

Kerkorian’s longtime lawyer, Terry Christensen, whose firm has represented Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Sean Connery and Kim Basinger, has also been indicted and pleaded innocent. Prosecutors say they expect more charges soon in the investigation.

Former Beverly Hills police officer Craig Stevens and Carradine’s ex-wife, Sandra Will Carradine, pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators in the case. They were not accused of hiring Pellicano to wire-tap.