Telephone company staffer takes the stand

The Anthony Pellicano trial saw a second day of tedious testimony over the technicalities of conducting wiretaps overtook Thursday as the government grilled a telephone company staffer who helped the FBI investigate the private eye.

David Lopes, an asset protection manager at SBC, spent much of the day testifying for the prosecution on how phone company employee Teresa Wright accessed databases to provide nonpublished phone numbers, addresses, Social Security numbers and possible credit information on individuals to Pellicano.

Names mentioned in reports shown to jurors included screenwriter Vincent “Bo” Zenga; journalist Anita Busch; actress, model and former escort Erin Finn; and Johnny Friendly, an alias that some close to the trial say belongs to Sylvester Stallone, who found himself being investigated by Pellicano in 2002.

Lopes began looking into Wright’s conduct at the company after Busch had alerted SBC that her phone lines were being wiretapped. He would also later assist the FBI in its investigation of Pellicano.

During his investigation, Lopes found Wright attempted to make her database searches appear as “errors” by entering a specific company code in the system.

Prosecutors showed jurors several copies of documents showing that Wright had conducted those searches. She was fired after the investigation revealed that the employee had been in violation of SBC’s code of conduct.

Wright was expected to testify Thursday, but Lopes’ testimony consumed most of the day.

During cross-examination, Pellicano devoted considerable time trying to prove his technical knowledge of how telephone company systems are set up and how wiretaps are conducted — perhaps not wise for someone charged with wiretapping.

He also became oddly hung up on trying to corner Lopes on his confusion over which room at the Pellicano Investigative Agency on Sunset Boulevard contained the telephone boxes the SBC staffer investigated while helping the FBI. The move frustrated not only Lopes but Judge Dale Fischer as well.

Attorneys for co-defendants, including former SBC employee Rayford Earl Turner, who allegedly conducted wiretaps or provided telephone company information to Pellicano, tried to raise doubt that it was their clients who accessed the company’s databases.

For example, they pushed the idea that SBC’s databases could have been accessed by any staffer in the state and that there are no reports created by the phone company that prove that Turner ever conducted any taps.

Music and film producer Freddie DeMann also briefly testified that he had paid Pellicano $135,000 to investigate his son-in-law and prove that he was unfaithful to his daughter, which included recording phone calls.

The trial resumes today.

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