Officer was paid to allow access to records
Oh, the irony.“We’re all chasing the same bad guys,” said former Beverly Hills cop Craig Stevens during testimony against private eye Anthony Pellicano on Tuesday, describing his role versus that of a Los Angeles Police officer. Yet by his own admission, Stevens was one of the bad guys who provided Pellicano with criminal records, DMV and other private information on individuals in return for payment. The former police officer said he received upwards of $10,000 for his efforts, which ultimately led to his early retirement from the BevHills Police Dept., as well as two counts of wire fraud and four counts of unauthorized access of protected computers to commit fraud. He now works as a grocery clerk. Stevens’ remorse was palpable in the courtroom. He admitted to being an alcoholic and feared that if he didn’t turn himself in, he’d “drink himself to death.” Just in case Stevens didn’t provide enough damning ammo against himself, prosecutors followed him up with Alice Zuniga, a records and jail manager with the BevHills Police Dept. who obtained the computer inquiries conducted by Stevens. The government’s illegal wiretapping and racketeering trial of Pellicano and four co-defendants is now in its fifth week. Stevens helped lead off the day’s often bizarre round of testimony, which included Herbalife founder Richard Marconi testifying he’d hired Pellicano to look into two of the company’s staffers, which resulted in police database searches. It also included testimony by Gaye Palazzo, a two-time Pellicano employee who oversaw the company’s records during the mid 1990s. She sent monthly checks of $2,500 to former LAPD officer Mark Arneson and provided cash and check payments to former Pacific Bell employee Rayford Earl Turner in return for providing Pellicano with illegal database searches. Palazzo admitted she also had a relationship with Turner, which she described as “98% physical.” As for Pellicano, who is representing himself during the trial, he once again spent much of his cross examination of witnesses trying to land gotcha moments to little avail. For example, he spent considerable time arguing with a computer expert whether a sound file could be played on a Windows or Macintosh operating system — despite the fact the CD of the file was obtained from his offices during an FBI raid in 2002. Hollywood’s interest in the trial should reach a peak on Wednesday when Michael Ovitz takes the stand.