John McTiernan, director of such hit movies as “Die Hard” and “The Thomas Crown Affair,” pleaded guilty Monday to making false statements to an FBI agent about hiring celebrity private eye Anthony Pellicano to wiretap a business associate.
As part of a plea deal, a somber McTiernan stood before U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer and said, “I plead guilty, your honor.”
McTiernan is the highest-profile figure yet named in the probe of Pellicano, who denies wrongdoing.
Asked by the judge if the statements he made to the FBI agent were false, McTiernan said, “They were knowingly false, your honor.”
McTiernan described getting a phone call at his home on Feb. 13 from a person identifying himself as an FBI agent.
He was asked questions about Pellicano, and he said he “denied that Pellicano ever discussed his wire taping ability. He asked me if I had hired him in any other area, and I said, ‘No I didn’t.”’
Actually, McTiernan added, “I had hired Anthony Pellicano to wiretap Charles Roven in the summer of 2000. ... But I never received a report or specific information.”
Roven worked with McTiernan on the 2002 box-office flop “Rollerball.” Roven was a producer and McTiernan directed and produced the film.
McTiernan said he paid Pellicano $50,000 for the illegal wiretap, and in the end, “I paid him off and fired him.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Saunders asked the judge to seal the plea agreement documents, and he refused to answer questions outside court about whether the government had agreed to make a recommendation for leniency in sentencing.
The judge scheduled sentencing for July 31 and allowed McTiernan to remain free on bond. The charge to which the director pleaded carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
McTiernan is among an array of people charged in connection with Pellicano, 62, who is accused of bugging phones and bribing police to get information on celebrities and others. He has pleaded not guilty.
Allegations against Pellicano include tapping the phone of actor Sylvester Stallone and having police run the names of comedians Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon through a government database.