Feds trying to plug leaks

Bauer suit hits McTiernan

The Anthony Pellicano case continues to expand, producing a new federal probe into who’s leaking confidential FBI investigation documents to reporters, ensnaring new names and spinning off fresh lawsuits from alleged victims of the disgraced private eye’s wiretapping.

And things went from bad to worse Wednesday for director John McTiernan, who pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI, when he was sued by “Crash Bandits” producer Bauer Martinez Studios for breach of contract.

As first reported in the legal pub Los Angeles Daily Journal, the U.S. Justice Dept. and the FBI are considering mounting an investigation into who leaked FBI summaries of witness interviews to the New York Times.

Both the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office leading the prosecution of Pellicano declined comment on the Daily Journal’s report.

On Wednesday, the Times published its latest story citing those summaries, which were given to attorneys involved in the case under a court order that they not be disclosed.

The paper reported Pellicano’s ex-girlfriend, Sandra Will Carradine, had told the feds that high-profile divorce attorney Dennis M. Wasser “had received illegal wiretap information” from the private eye.

The Times also reported that an FBI agent wrote in the summary of an interview with divorce attorney Stephen A. Kolodny, who has opposed Wasser, that a recording showed “Wasser’s knowledge of an illegal wiretap conducted by Anthony Pellicano.”

Terry W. Bird, attorney for Wasser, who has not been charged with any crime, said his client was unaware of any illegal activity. “I don’t believe he has done anything wrong, or done anything to justify his being charged,” Bird said.

Previously, the Times has cited the FBI interview summaries in stories about Pellicano’s dealings with Paramount chair Brad Grey, former agent Mike Ovitz and billionaire grocer Ron Burkle.

The summaries were given on April 5 to attorneys for Pellicano and the six other defendants indicted in February on 112 counts of conspiring to wiretap and collect information from confidential law enforcement databases.

However, the judge in the case, Dale Fischer, issued a protective order on April 3 barring prosecutors and the defense teams from revealing the information to anyone else “in order to protect the legitimate privacy interests of the individuals whose Confidential Information is contained in the discovery materials.”

The Times published its first story citing the summaries on April 14, describing Pellicano’s dealings with Grey and Ovitz.

On April 17, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Saunders, who is leading the prosecution, filed notice with the court that the protective order had been violated. A court hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday morning, in which the leak to the Times is expected to be discussed.

McTiernan’s troubles

As for McTiernan, the suit seeks to kick the helmer off the film, which is in pre-production, for failing to disclose his involvement with Pellicano and demands that the helmer pay $2 million already spent on the film.

McTiernan, who reached a plea deal with prosecutors, is still awaiting sentencing.

The BMS suit, filed in L.A. Superior Court by well-known litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, alleges that McTiernan never disclosed to BMS that he had hired Pellicano to wiretap producer Charles Roven in 2002 and that he was working out a guilty plea with federal prosecutors.

The suit also alleges McTiernan has failed to prepare a budget for the film. In addition, because of the plea deal, the suit claims, McTiernan cannot guarantee to the completion bond company or investors that he will not be incarcerated or that he will be permitted to travel outside of the country.

BMS attorney Richard Schirtzer declined to comment.

BMS already has incurred substantial expenses. McTiernan has been paid $300,000 already and has scouted locations in Thailand and South Africa, spending $1.7 million.

McTiernan has been designated an “essential element” on foreign distribution agreements for the film.

The suit, for breach of contract and fraud, seeks damages of at least $2 million plus the return of McTiernan’s fee. BMS also seeks a court declaration that it has no further obligations to McTiernan regarding further payment of his fixed compensation, theatrical box office bonus or contingent compensation. The suit also claims McTiernan is not entitled to any credit or creative control over the film.

Other tidbits

Meanwhile, an attorney for five of the people named as victims in the Pellicano indictment filed claims against the city of Los Angeles, alleging violations of privacy by an LAPD officer named in the indictment along with Anthony Pellicano.

Neville Johnson submitted the claims on behalf of Monika Zsibrita as well as Pamela Miller and three of her family members. The claims allege that LAPD Sgt. Mark Arneson was paid by Pellicano to access a law enforcement database without authorization. Each claim alleges the LAPD was negligent in its supervision of Arneson and seeks damages in excess of $1 million.

Chris Rock allegedly hired Pellicano to investigate Zsibrita after she brought an unsuccessful paternity claim against the comedian in 1999.

Miller worked as a nanny to Taylor Thomson, a member of the family that controls a multibillion-dollar Canadian publishing operation, and found herself involved in the custody battle between Thomson and Michael Kolsea.

In other developments in the Pellicano case:

  • Steven F. Greul filed a motion late Tuesday requesting that lead FBI agent Stanley Ornellas be removed from the case because of “misrepresentations and omissions” in the use of Carradine as a cooperating witness without Pellicano’s knowledge.

  • A much-anticipated story on the case from Vanity Fair gave the most thorough explanation of how Pellicano’s wiretapping operation worked. According to the story, which appears in its June issue, the five computers Pellicano kept in a locked room of his Sunset Blvd. offices could only tap phones in the 310 area code. If he wanted to record calls elsewhere, he would rent apartments in that area.

The mag also reports that soon after Pellicano went to prison on weapons charges, attorney Bert Fields and “the president of a major studio” — believed to be Universal Studios’ Ron Meyer — sought to raise money from Hollywood figures to support Pellicano’s children. The private eye ended up refusing the assistance when no one but the prexy and a producer offered support.