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Arts and Entertainment

Judge Upholds 15-Year Sentence For Disgraced Former Celebrity P.I. Anthony Pellicano

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A U.S. District judge upheld on Monday the 15-year-sentence that Anthony Pellicano, a former Hollywood private investigator, had been serving for wiretapping and running a criminal enterprise, reports the L.A. Times. This means that Pellicano will remain in prison until March 2019, according to Deadline.

Pellicano was originally sentenced in 2008 after facing allegations of computer hacking, wiretapping, and making threats. Monday's re-sentencing took place because it was ruled that a judge had committed a technical error during the 2008 trial. At the time, he gave out erroneous jury instructions on the charges of aiding and abetting computer fraud and unauthorized computer access, two of the several charges against Pellicano. Those charges would later be vacated by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which then ordered a re-sentencing as a result of the technical error.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Dale Fisher sentenced Pellicano, 73, to 180 months in prison, the same amount of prison time that prosecutors were requesting for the re-sentencing.

Prior to the hearing, federal prosecutor Kevin Lally said that the vacated charges should not lead to a lighter sentence for Pellicano. In a memorandum, Lally noted that Pellicano was convicted for "conduct in which law officers were bribed and phone company employees paid to provide confidential information on crime victims and legal adversaries, conduct in which defendant and his associates wiretapped defendant's clients' adversaries, including attorneys, and sought to use this information, often maliciously, to destroy these adversaries, conduct which sought to subvert justice, undercut faith in fundamental governmental institutions, and undermine the core trust and security that resides at the heart of attorney-client privileged communications."

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The former P.I. attended Monday's hearing via videoconference. Deadline said that he'd appeared on video with sunglasses on and bandages on his head.

“He needs to stay in prison,” Jude Green said at the hearing, reports the Times. Prosecutors said that Green was spied on by Pellicano's agency during divorce proceedings in 2001 with her multi-millionaire husband Leonard Green.

Pellicano's transgressions were widespread and, once revealed, well-publicized. NBC 4 reported that the list of targets included Sylvester Stallone, Garry Shandling, Kevin Nealon, Keith Carradine and the late producer Aaron Russo. Nealon, a former SNL star, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in 2006 about his reaction. "Was I surprised? Did I feel violated? Did I feel resentment? The answer is no to all three. I mean, why shouldn't I have my phone tapped? I am a big player in this town and hold a lot of power," Nealon joked (or, we presume he was joking). In the piece, Nealon said he'd learned that Pellicano was using a police database to dredge out "embarrassing material" to be used against Nealon if he were ever to testify against an "enemy" in court. "I am elated to have made this group. It makes me feel important," Nealon said of a list of alleged victims of Pellicano's wiretapping.

Anita Busch, a former entertainment reporter for the L.A. Times and The Hollywood Reporter, also alleged that she was a target of Pellicano's spying. She claims that he was working on behalf of Ovitz, who wanted to dissuade her from writing coverage of him. Busch says that, in one particularly bizarre and frightening scene, Pellicano left a note that said "Stop" on her windshield, along with a dead fish and a rose.

Pellicano will be back in court on November 13 to start trial on Busch's case against Ovitz; the reporter accuses the former CAA boss of invasion of privacy, assault and intent of emotional distress, according to Deadline.

As noted at The Hollywood Reporter, Pellicano's past clients included Tom Cruise, Chris Rock, and movie studio mogul Kirk Kerkorian.