Witness: P.I. urged murder
Anthony Pellicano suggested murder as the ultimate solution for a deadbeat producer, a Gotham hedge fund manager testified Tuesday in the government’s wiretapping trial against the P.I.
Moneyman Adam D. Sender’s bombshell came midway through a particularly juicy day of testimony about philandering husbands and wives and a comical attempt to serve papers in a barbershop.
But those tales paled in comparison with Sender’s story, which began when the former partner in Kadem Capital invested $1 million of his money into a production company with Aaron Russo. When Sender’s first attorney couldn’t get relief, he hired Bert Fields, who suggested Pellicano as someone with unorthodox methods who gets the job done.
Sender spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to get his money back, alternately wiring money to Pellicano and sending it by $5,000 allotments via FedEx. By the time he was done, Sender, who talked bitterly in tapes about getting back at Russo, now deceased, had spent $800,000 on his quest.
Sender said Pellicano suggested killing Russo during a meeting at his Bel-Air home. He said the private eye let him know that “if I wanted to I could basically have (Russo) murdered on his way back from Las Vegas,” Sender testified.
Under this scenario, someone would follow Russo, “drive him off the road and bury his body in the desert.”
“Did he appear to be joking?” prosecutor Daniel Saunders queried.
“Absolutely not,” Sender responded.
Pellicano did not appear overly cowed by the implication. The P.I., who is representing himself in the trial, offered a more colorful version of the exchange to his former client on cross-examination: “You spent all this money, why don’t you just have him whacked?” he said the conversation went, before quickly paraphrasing the exchange as “If you spent all the money on this guy, why don’t you have them killed?”
To which Sender said, “You might have phrased it that way.”
And in any case, Sender said he did not report the conversation because nothing came of it. He also acknowledged he knew full well that Pellicano was tapping his former business associate’s phones and expressed remorse that he did nothing about it.
“I just went along with it, and I’m sorry,” Sender said. “I wish I never did.”
Earlier in the day, Sandra Will Carradine also expressed remorse for keeping mum. The ex-wife of Keith Carradine was indicted after lying to a grand jury about her knowledge of Pellicano’s wiretapping activities on her behalf. She had retained Pellicano at the recommendation of a friend while she and her ex were hammering out a child-support agreement. She said she hired the P.I. to bolster her case that he was actually living in California, not Colorado, and that he was hiding assets from her.
In damaging audio tapes played before the court, Pellicano described some of his tactics, stating more than once that Carradine was better off not knowing the details.
“I’ve got some interesting things I’m working, honey, that I’m not going to discuss over the phone,” Pellicano said. “Because you might be deposed.”
He subsequently described using a bunch of different numbers to find out information “so people don’t know I’m doing it.”
In another audio recording, Pellicano told her about the activities of Keith Carradine and his then-girlfriend. “Listen to me,” he exhorted. “You know how I know this, right? Without going into details over the telephone, I know that’s what they were doing.”
Carradine broke down on the stand when asked why she lied to the grand jury. She said at the time she did not know Pellicano had recorded their conversations and that she was trying to protect her former friend. Carradine has been indicted on two counts of perjury and is testifying for the government in hopes of reducing her sentence of up to 10 years.
Russo’s former wife, by contrast, taunted Pellicano from the witness stand. After describing, with sardonic flair, the attempts by Pellicano’s associates to serve papers to the ailing Russo at a barbershop by shoving an envelope down the elastic band of his sweatpants, Heidi Gregg sassed the P.I. when he pressed her on the ownership of a property she was trying to rent.
“Why don’t you ask him?” she said. “Good luck.”
The day’s testimony ended up with more tearful confessions by Lisa Gores, the ex-wife of tech billionaire Alec Gores. Gores had been tailed by her husband when he suspected her, correctly, of having an affair with his brother Tom. Gores described meeting with Pellicano to plead that he destroy the incriminating recordings.
“I was very nervous and scared about any of the tapes getting out,” she said, breaking down.