Prosecution takes aim at former cop

Anthony Pellicano who?

It was almost as if the Hollywood private eye didn’t even exist Wednesday, as the prosecution spent nearly a second day grilling former LAPD Sgt. Mark Arneson on the type of work he did for Pellicano.

Arneson is one of four co-defendants in the trial. The officer was paid to allegedly search police databases for confidential information on individuals Pellicano was investigating for clients.

Yet Arneson has testified that while he did, in fact, conduct computer searches, many of them could have been conducted by someone else using his login and security code.

In one instance, he says he was traveling back to L.A. from Mexico and was “30,000 feet in the air.”

But assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Saunders hammered away at Arneson’s claim, pointing out that he had already landed two hours before the searches were made.

Over the course of the trial, the government has introduced reams of searches allegedly conducted by Arneson; his name or individual login — he signed on as “Sparky” — prominently appears with each document.

The documents were obtained as part of an audit conducted by the LAPD and provided to prosecutors.

“If it’s on my audit, there’s no way I can dispute that,” Arneson said of his connection with the searches.

When asked if he ever asked Pellicano why he wanted the information, Arneson said, “No.” “You didn’t care, did you, sir?” continued Saunders. Again, Arneson replied, “No.”

Altogether, Pellicano paid Arneson $190,000 between 1997 and 2002, including a $2,500 monthly retainer, for his services, which Arneson stresses never involved illegal computer searches.

Instead, they included security and surveillance work that Pellicano provided his clients. At one time, Arneson said he was on call 24 hours a day, which he admits was a “violation of LAPD policy.”

Any searches he did conduct using police databases were made to provide Pellicano with information that could have benefited one of his own cases, Arneson said.

“I wasn’t paid to do those runs,” he said. “I did it to receive information.”

Still, Saunders stressed that Arneson conducted the searches for financial reasons, namely, his serious need for funds.

In an odd back-and-forth, Arneson denied having declared Chapter 13 bankruptcy, despite paperwork signed by him and letters written by the cop to lenders bringing up the filing.

Arneson had allegedly filed for bankruptcy in order to save his Rancho Palos Verdes home from foreclosure. But Arneson claims that the paperwork was filed by another individual, saying the signature is not his own and that much of the information contained in the documents (his job title is listed as “private investor”) is wrong.

Although Pellicano was used as a source, Arneson said he never disclosed that he was using the P.I. to his superiors, partners or other squad members. He essentially kept Pellicano a secret.

Pellicano wasn’t entirely out of the picture on Wednesday.

In a recorded telephone conversation between the P.I. and the head of an alleged gambling ring that was played for the court, Pellicano is heard saying, “I’m an old-style Sicilian, and I don’t want anything to do with rats. … If you’re a rat, don’t come anywhere near me because I’ll hurt you.”

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