Pellicano case snares a pair

Wiretap probe continues to name names

The long-running Pellicano wiretap probe spewed out the names of more Hollywood victims Tuesday as the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles announced that two associates of Anthony Pellicano, the onetime private investigator to the stars, have pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges related to the investigation.

Craig Stevens, a member of the Beverly Hills Police Dept., admitted that he used the department’s computers to obtain information about producer and sometime political candidate Aaron Russo from the Dept. of Motor Vehicles and sold the information to Pellicano.

And, in a second case, Sandra Will Carradine, Pellicano’s ex-girlfriend and the former wife of Keith Carradine, pleaded guilty to perjury charges.

According to the charging documents in the case, Stevens illegally pulled records in mid- and late-2001 for Russo; Samuel and Max Russo, who are apparently Aaron Russo’s sons; actress Heidi Gregg; and producer Adam Sender.

Russo has been involved in a few litigations: two Writers Guild matters and a 1997 case in which he and Gregg sued Universal, Imagine and Brian Grazer claiming that the film “Liar, Liar” was based on their ideas. However, Russo’s attorney Glen Kulik said he had no knowledge of any wiretapping during the case, and the case settled in 1998, several years before the wiretaps.

Russo, the producer of “Trading Places” and “The Rose,” started out in the music industry and was Bette Midler’s manager. Turning to politics, he ran in the Republican primary for governor of Nevada in 1998. In a famed infomercial in the ’90s called “Mad as Hell,” Russo complained about the intrusiveness of the federal government.

It is not clear why Pellicano wiretapped Russo. Investigators discovered in 2002 that Pellicano frequently ran illegal wiretaps when he was hired by entertainment attorneys for the perfectly legal purpose of ferreting out information during litigation. The grand jury is investigating whether Pellicano did the taping with the knowledge or at the direction of the attorneys who hired him.

Stevens also admitted he lied to the FBI when he denied that he had ever provided information or been paid by Pellicano. Stevens resigned from the police department Friday.

Meanwhile, Sandra Will Carradine, who hired Pellicano in connection with her divorce proceeding, admitted she lied to a grand jury when she denied any knowledge that Pellicano was wiretapping her ex-husband’s phone.

Tuesday’s guilty pleas are the first official action since June, when the Los Angeles district attorney filed charges against Pellicano and Alexander Proctor. The two were charged with threatening then-L.A. Times reporter Anita Busch, who was working on a story about alleged ties between action star Steven Seagal and the mob.

Although the wiretap probe, which has ensnared major entertainment figures and riveted Hollywood in the process, has been ongoing for almost three years, there has been little official action. The saga began when the FBI, investigating the threats against Busch, raided Pellicano’s office and discovered plastic explosives and two illegal hand grenades. They also discovered computer files indicating Pellicano had conducted extensive illegal wiretaps. A grand jury was convened.

Since 2002, several prominent Hollywood figures, including entertainment attorney Bert Fields, have been questioned by the FBI. No charges have been filed against Pellicano in connection with the wiretaps. Pellicano is serving a sentence related to the explosives conviction and is due to be released in February.

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