'Die Hard' director lied to FBI about Pellicano
Director John McTiernan has been sentenced to four months in federal prison for lying to the FBI about hiring disgraced private eye Anthony Pellicano to illegally wiretap producer Charles Roven.
U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer sternly admonished the “Die Hard” helmer Monday for suggesting that his crime did not justify prison time, and that he suffers from depression.
“He (McTiernan) will certainly not be the only depressed man in custody,” Fischer said during the Monday court hearing. “He has shown no remorse, just excuses.”
Sentence, which also included a $100,000 fine, was issued after the court rejected McTiernan’s motion to withdraw his earlier guilty plea.
In April 2006, the 56-year-old McTiernan became the highest-profile Hollywood player to be charged in connection with the Pellicano scandal.
He is the second person who used Pellicano’s services to receive prison time. Earlier this year, Daniel Nicherie was sentenced to 4½ years after pleading guilty to hiring Pellicano to wiretap a Hollywood businessman.
Prosecutors say McTiernan lied to the FBI when he told investigators that he had no knowledge of Pellicano’s illegal wiretapping activities.
In fact, FBI said McTiernan hired and paid Pellicano to conduct an illegal wiretap of producer Roven in summer 2000. Roven and McTiernan had worked together on the movie “Rollerball.”
Shortly after McTiernan was indicted, he agreed to plead guilty to one count of making a false statement in connection with a Justice Dept. investigation, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.
On Sept. 10 — 17 months after entering the plea agreement — McTiernan and his new attorney notified prosecutors that he would seek to withdraw his plea on the grounds that he was given bad advice by his then-attorney.
McTiernan and his new attorney argued that he was jet-lagged and under the influence of alcohol and medications when he made his false denials to FBI agent Stanley Omellas during an after-hours phone call to McTiernan’s home.
McTiernan said his former attorney should have advised him that he had good defenses, and a valid basis for suppressing evidence used against him.
Federal prosecutors argued, however, that McTiernan decided to try to withdraw the guilty plea only when he learned prosecutors were planning to recommend six months prison time at the sentencing hearing.
Fischer agreed with prosecutors that McTiernan was fully cognizant when making the false statements to the FBI.
Going further, Fischer said McTiernan was not acting like a person sorry for his crime, as a plea agreement requires, but rather like someone “incensed” that he’d ever been charged in the first place.
Following the hearing, McTiernan’s legal team said they would immediately seek an appeal.
“I am somewhat stunned. I just don’t see locking a person like this up,” said defense attorney Milton Grimes.
McTiernan, whose other directing credits include “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” “The Hunt for Red October” and the 1999 “The Thomas Crown Affair,” is lined up to direct “Run,” a $30 million action-thriller produced by L.A.-based management-production shingle Pierce/Williams and finance brokers Future Films.
(Wire services contributed to this report.)