Back in 2002, Anthony Pellicano, once known as P.I. to the stars, was arrested on possession of explosives and served a 30 month sentence in the Federal pen. One day before he was to be released he was rearrested on racketeering and wiretapping charges. There were ten other individuals arrested in that sweep, some of whom have already pled guilty to various charges.
Anthony Pellicano, 63
Mark Arneson, 29 year veteran of the LAPD, Pacific Division
Raford Earl Turner, 51, former field tech employee of SBC & PacBell
Kevin Kachikan, 43, computer wizard who developed "Teleseluth," a wiretapping software program
Abner Nicherie, 44, of Las Vegas. Pellicano client involved in a business dispute with a man who was wiretapped
Chad Hummel: Representing defendant Arneson. Hummel is a handsome looking man. He has two assistants with him in the courtroom.
Mona Soo Hoo: Representing defendant Turner. Hoo was a member of John DeLorean's defense team that successfully defended DeLorean on all charges.
Adam Braun: Representing defendant Kachikian. Son of the famous lawyer, Harlan Braun.
Lawrence Semenza: Representing defendant Nicherie. Based in Nevada, in the 1970's he was the U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada.
The Judge: Dale S. Fischer: 11 years on the bench total in State and Federal Court.
The Prosecution Team:
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Daniel Saunders
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Kevin Lally
The Witness List
I read about Anthony Pellicano over the years but didn't pay much attention because it wasn't a murder trial. Ever since I read my first Agatha Christie story in my late teens I was hooked on murder mysteries. It was the Charles Manson case that changed my focus to true crime, and I've been interested in following high profile murder cases ever since. My primary interest for the last twenty years has been criminal psychology and what is it that goes into creating serial offenders. The sixty-four thousand dollar question has always been: Is it nurture? Is it nature? Or is it a combination of both?
So it was an unusual diversion for me to decide to drop in on the Anthony Pellicano case which kicked off jury selection earlier this month. Even though I had heard from various sources that this case was a real snore, I had thought that I would try to attend from the beginning but sewing and other real life commitments kept me from going. After I got an email from Steven Mikulan, who's covering the case for the LA Weekly, I decided to drop by and see Steven and Ciaran McEvoy, another reporter I met during the Spector murder trial. Ciaran, who works for a wire service, was promoted last fall to the Federal Court beat and he's been in court covering the trial every day.
I had the same nostalgic feeling that Dominick Dunne expressed to me in an email a few months ago. I had missed our little group (Dominick, myself, Steven and Ciaran) that had bonded from sitting beside each other for five months covering Phil Spector's murder trial. Although I had kept in touch with them sporadically for the last six months or so via phone and email, I was itching to get back into a courtroom and observe another criminal proceeding, even if it was just a case involving racketeering and wiretapping.
With a little research, I had found out that the trial was being held on the eighth floor of the Edward E. Roybal Federal Building, just a few blocks east of the Los Angeles County Criminal Court building on Temple Street. I knew that the presiding judge was Dale Fischer, a woman whose courtroom proceedings start even before 8:00 am and she only gives a few fifteen minutes breaks until 2:00 pm when testimony ends for the day.
Back in December at the last Spector pretrial hearing, Ciaran had told me that as a member of the general public, I wouldn't be allowed to bring a cell phone with a camera into the Federal building where his new office was located. So I knew early on that if I decided to attend this trial, I might have to leave my phone at home if I took the train or in my car if I decided to drive. One of the things holding me back was that 8:00 am start time. I am not an early riser. I usually stay up late into the night working on sewing and catching up on shows or movies I've recorded.
I set my alarm and got up early enough at 5:00 am, planning to leave the house at 6:30. While I was drinking my green tea, I was searching back stories I had printed out on Kazuyoshi Miura, the Japanese businessman whose wife was shot in the head back in 1981 on a side street in downtown Los Angeles. I was hoping to find the exact intersection and after court let out I could drive down the street and take some photographs. I was pouring over my Thomas Brothers book map when I got up to get my breakfast Mr. Sprocket had just fixed for me. When I stood up, my low back went out and I was in excruciating pain. Just like that I went from ready to go to trial to wondering if I could even stand for a few moments with a purse on my shoulder.
I took the hottest shower I could stand and tried to stretch out my low back. I didn't feel better, but I was hoping it would get better once I got inside the courtroom and could sit down. Driving in the car was okay and I made good time getting into downtown. Unfortunately, I forgot to check the net for budget parking lots closer to this building so I thought it would be safe to just park in the lot I found for the Spector trial. It would however mean a walk of five-and-a-half blocks to court. When I got out of the car, my back had not improved and I found I couldn't even stand the extra weight of my purse on my shoulder. I carried it in my hand and tried to keep moving. As I approach the Roybal Federal Building I noticed that it is an attractive building. There is a nice open plaza between the Roybal and the one just to the west.
I pass through a main street entrance and make it to the eighth floor. Right outside the door to the courtroom is another security walk through scanner. The first thing that strikes me is the fact that there's no one dressed like a sheriff or officer like what you have in the County courthouse. All the security personnel are wearing suits and some type of ear piece that probably connects them to a central command center. I immediately get the impression that these are all secret service agents but I'm sure that's not correct. Later research tells me that the U.S. Marshal Service is responsible for all Federal building security.
The guards outside the courtroom door ask if I have a cell phone. Recently, they laxed measures and allow cell phones in the building but you are still not allowed to bring them into the courtroom. Your phone and ID is collected, put in a Ziploc baggie and placed in a big postal mail type bin right beside the walk through scanner.
I'm quite impressed with the courtroom. It's a narrow room but quite deep. There's rich looking wood panels and black marble or granite column sections. My understanding that this courtroom was being used because it can accommodate several defendants. There is a single isle off to the left of the courtroom in the gallery. Several short rows of benches on the left and long rows on the right. The jury box is elevated and towards the back left. The Judge is in the back center of the room with the witness box between the judge and the jury. The entire wall from floor to ceiling behind the judge is polished black stone. The court reporter is below the witness box and the judge's clerk's desk is directly in front of the judge. On the right side of the courtroom is a long, tri-level elevated platform. I didn't know it at first, but this is where all the defendants sit with their attorneys. There appears to be room enough for twelve defendants and their counsel. There are two tables in the center of the room facing the judge and I later realize this is where the prosecutors sit, and off to the right in front of these tables is the podium where counsel will stand to conduct their examinations.
There are huge DVD flat screens set up in this room. There is one off to the side behind the witness box, and there is a larger one at the end of the jury box facing the jury. This means that anyone sitting on the left side of the courtroom has a poor view of the jury and the witness box. There is also an extra large projection screen pulled down behind where the defendants sit.
The first row on both sides of the isle is labeled AUSA/Agents. A few more rows on the left are also labeled for agents and behind them the press. What's interesting is the long rows in the center are all labeled for the general public. This is totally the opposite of how things are handled in California's County Courthouses, where the accredited press is given priority treatment in the amount of courtroom space they get, often to the exclusion of the general public.
As I sit down in the third row, I'm embarrassed that I'm still woefully uninformed about the facts of the case, who the defendants are as well as the extent of all the charges; but I reasoned that I could figure that out as I followed the trial or ask Steven or Ciaran for the correct spelling of a witness's name. Steven and Ciaran are not here yet, and in the row beside me is a gentleman in a purple shirt who is talking to a sharply dressed blond woman in the row in front of him. The man encourages me to sit in the next row closer to the proceedings. As I smile at him he reaches out his hand and introduces himself. He speaks so fast I don't quite catch his name. When he observes me taking out a notebook he asks about that and I tell him I write a blog, Trials and Tribulations. He then asks me if I have my own URL and I inform him the blog is hosted on Blogspot.
I decide to take this man's advice and move up one row. Right before court is to start, I look behind me and see Ciaran in the row behind me and Steven in a row farther back on the other side. I motion Steven to come up and sit beside me. He suggests that I sit on the isle seat but I offer it to him, giving him the better view. It wasn't until I look over at the defense platform that I notice the man who introduced himself to me is one of the defendants! I later find out this is Abner Nicherie, with a long history of white collar crime.
I'm totally taken back by Judge Fischer when she takes the bench. She appears very small at that big desk and she's quite a bit older than I imagined. She has short, grayish white hair parted on the side. I think I had an image in my head of Judge Glass from the recent OJ Simpson pretrial hearings.
Before the jury comes in, the prosecution is making some requests of the court. It's then that I realize that Pellicano is representing himself, because he's the only defendant on the defense platform that is all alone. Pellicano is standing and making an objection to the judge. It has something to do with Ms. Virture and a Ms. LaMasters, both who appeared to have worked for Pellicano, one them possibly out of the country. It appears the defense is trying to ask questions about a witness who has already testified, to undermine her credibility. Apparently, it's regarding drug use that Ms. Virtue has blogged about on her website. I'm cursing myself now that I didn't do any research before hand. After all the back and forth, Judge Fischer rules that "...no one will be delving into those areas," meaning the drug use.
As I take in Pellicano, the first image that comes to my mind is a character from The Simpsons, Charles Montgomery Burns. I don't know why that image flashes in my head but I'm thinking it's because from my angle, Pellicano looks like he doesn't have much of a chin. I'm also struck by that fact that he's not wearing a suit, but some type of casual dark green windbreaker. Research later informs me that this is a standard Federal detention jacket. Judge Fischer makes an issue of statement to Pellicano that he can't go into certain areas regarding a stipulation about computers.
Court is called into session and everyone has to stand while the jury enters. I have to hang onto the bench back in front of me to be able to stand without my back hurting. Judge Fischer greets the jurors and makes a comment about St. Patricks Day, informing the jury and the gallery that, "Yesterday was the anniversary of the date I was first appointed to the bench, eleven years ago."
A prior witness, Mr. Hart? (I'm not sure I hear the name correctly.) takes the stand and Pellicano goes to the podium to cross this witness. What ensues for the next half hour or so is like a comedy. Pellicano is asking about some sound files that this witness transferred to hard drives. I'm not really following it but I do try to take some notes.
P: Do you have your notes and records with you?
A: Yes. Not here on the stand.
P: Could you pull them out?
Judge Fischer interrupts Pellicano to tell him that first we need to know why he has to have them. Pellicano apparently hasn't laid any foundation.
Pellicano is asking the witness about a lab report and asking him to explain the serialized numbers and generated reports; who created certain items on the list. It's clear that Pellicano doesn't understand the witness and the witness isn't understanding what Pellicano is trying to ask. Pellicano appears to be totally confused. The Judge asks Pellicano, "This seems to be a different issue. Is there some point to it?" One of the prosecutors stands up and asks to see what Pellicano is reading from. Pellicano shows the papers to the prosecutor and I look over on at the jury. Several of the jurors are watching this exchange with bemused expressions on their faces. I notice that Steven is working on a draft article for a totally different piece for his paper. I glance back at Ciaran, and he doesn't appear to be taking any notes either. Pellicano appears to be lost as to what document the witness is talking about and another defense attorney passes a copy of the document to Pellicano.
Pellicano asks the Judge if he can approach. Judge Fischer asks, "For what?" Pellicano replies, "You asked me to show everything to you before I show it to the witness." The witness finally sees the document and then tells Pellicano, "This is not what I created."
Some of the defense attorneys are watching this exchange, others appear to be busy working on other issues with their clients. The defendant in the purple shirt is chatting with his attorney. I note that I hope the jury is following this because I'm hopelessly lost.
Pellicano then says, "Unfortunately that's the only document I've been provided with so I don't have anything..."
OBJECTION! SUSTAINED! Judge Fischer addresses Pellicano, "Mr. Pellicano, don't make statements. Just ask questions." Pellicano replies, "It will be difficult to..." One of the prosecutors shoots out of his chair, "OBJECTION! He's making statements again!" Judge Fischer replies with a smile, "I think there might be a question there, at the end..."
I come to the conclusion that Pellicano is hard of hearing. I'm farther away than he is and I'm hearing the witness just fine. But during the last bit of drawn out exasperation Pellicano has often said, "I can't hear you," after the witness has answered. I write in my notes, THIS IS RIDICULOUS. Pellicano goes on and on about the file listings and the fact that the witness didn't actually verify that each and every file was an exact copy. The jury looks stoic; bored. The Judge then tells Pellicano to "shore this up because we've been over it many times." Pellicano is now asking the witness about a particular program. Looking over at the jury I can't tell if they are taking notes, or if they are even allowed to take notes. Pellicano keeps asking questions outside the scope and the prosecution keeps objecting, in one instance stating, "We didn't inquire on that item." Pellicano replies, "Yes, he did." The Judge intervenes addressing Pellicano, "No he didn't. Move on."
The prosecution then stands up to redirect Mr. Hart. When Pellicano stands up to recross, but he again asks a question outside the scope of redirect. Finally he's done and the witness is excused from the stand. I take some time to write some descriptive notes about the defendants and their attorneys so I can try to figure out who's who later.
The next witness is David J. Snyder, who works out of the FBI Headquarters in Quantico, Virginia. He's part of the electronic technical/video division. He is a forensic audio examiner, and this is shortened to "FAVIO," a term that was mentioned several times with the prior witness. He testifies that he's been performing basically the same job since 1991 under the same unit even though the names periodically change. The witness explains his job and CV. He has a degree in electrical engineering and he's currently a member of the Audio Engineering Society. He recently was accepted as a member of the Forensic Scientists Association. He's testified eight times in Federal and State court. Snyder goes onto explain what he does. His duties encompass several areas:
Audio analysis, sound. Non-voice, gunshot analysis or what a particular sound might be. Authenticate analog recordings that may have been tampered with or need to be authenticated. His department receives requests from Federal, State and other countries. The witness goes onto explain how they accessed the encrypted audio files. Another agent, Edwards, who is a computer programmer wizard determined that the pass code was "office322omerta," and once they had access they used a program Edwards developed to decrypt the audio files. Those files were then converted to a type of file called a "wave file" which is an uncompressed file that is recognized by most computers.
Q: Can these conversion programs create a file that wasn't there (to begin with)?
A: No they can not.
Q: Can these programs make people say something they never said?
A: No, they can not.
As I look over at Pellicano he is resting his hand on his face and chin. For a moment there, it appears that he might be asleep.
At 9:15 the judge calls a break. And that break really is only for fifteen minutes because when Steven and I come back three minutes past, court is already in session. Pellicano is now sitting with his arms crossed. At the break, Ciaran tells me that this assignment, the Federal Court beat is very busy. There is quite a bit going on in Federal court. He has to cover not just criminal cases but also civil trials. He says, "There's a lot to keep on top of here."
Pellicano gets up to cross Snyder about his knowledge of a program called Telesleuth." Looking over at the defense platform, it appears that the defendant in the purple shirt who introduced himself to me is listening to an iPod! He's got some type of plug and wire going into each ear. When Pellicano finishes, the Asian looking defense attorney crosses the witness. No other defense attorneys have any questions but the prosecutor has a few redirect questions about files that the FAVIO unit could not decrypt. Pellicano asks to recross and then the witness is finally excused.
The next witness, Karla Kerlin, is a current ADA with Los Angeles County. In a prior life, I understand she was a Vegas showgirl. Pellicano looks out at the gallery. Ms. Kerlin had short dark hair. She's wearing a black suit with a pearl necklace. It appears she's a recalled witness. Ms. Kerlin prosecuted a case with another prosecutor ~ she can't remember who that was for a moment~ a man accused of raping several women. Mr. Pellicano was the investigator for the defense on that case. At one point he left the case and a new gentleman, Bill Pavelic took over. The defendant in that case, John Gordon Jones, received an acquittal.
Ms. Kerlin testifies that she can't say, that anything Pellicano or Mark Arneson did resulted in that verdict. Sexual assault victims have the option to remain anonymous and be identified in pubic proceedings as "Jane Doe." Although their names are anonymous to the public, the defense attorneys and their investigators receive their accuser's names and addresses. There were 9,000 pages of documents were provided to the defense in that case.
That case originated in the sex crimes division, where Ms. Kerlin is assigned. When the DA's office realized that this case was bigger than they originally thought, it was transferred to the major crimes division and she went with the case. Unfortunately, it's not clear in my notes where the prosecution direct ends and the defense cross begins.
Q: There were at least eleven dectectives (working that case)?
A: I didn't assign anyone, but know it was a large number.
Mr. Jones was arrested in 1998. The defendant went through several attorneys: Ron Richards, Richard Sherman and last (I think) Danny Davis. Pellicano was working on the case early on, and met with the witness in early '98. Ms. Kerlin is asked if she ever tape recorded Mr. Pellicano.
A: I have never tape recorded Mr. Pellicano. Two detectives asked if she would come to a meeting with Pellicano and she went to that police station and the meeting was taped by the detectives at the Hollywood Station.
Ms. Kerlin is asked to look at a report and she indicates that she saw the report once before last week. The tape recording was surreptitious. Pellicano is now asking her if she remembers saying at that meeting, that maybe she would be hiring Pellicano soon. Ms. Kerlin, almost laughing as she answers the question, explains that that comment was taken out of context and she was being sarcastic. She didn't actually believe she would be hiring Mr. Pellicano.
Q: (At that meeting) Didn't Mr. Pellicano say, "If Mr. Jones did it, go get him!" ?
A: Yes he did.
Q: He acted like he was trying to assist?
A: He's a schmoozer. He likes to make a good report. I didn't seriously think he would be helping me.
Q: Didn't he say to you, "Don't overcharge the case?"
Ms. Kerlin states that, he (Pellicano) didn't care for Mr. Pavelic and it was time for him to move on.
Bill Pavelic's prior employment with the LAPD is mentioned. Ms. Kerlin testifies that she did not know he (Pavelic) had sex crimes experience, just that he worked for the LAPD. When she met Pavelic, he shook her hand and wouldn't let go and proceeded to tell her that, "We are neighbors," that he also lives in Glendale. She felt intimidated at the time. Pavelic was more vigorus (than Pellicano) in his investigation in respect to document request. Pavelic was asking for forms five-ten, five-nine. Forms that she didn't even know what they were.
Ms. Kerlin says, that Pellicano told her, "They asked him to investigate her, but he told her that he would not."
Another defense attorney, Braun begins with a question and he doesn't even get it all out when the prosecutors stand up. "Objection! We're going down that road...." All of the counsel get up and go into chambers with the Judge. They come out moments later.
Now I have in my notes that Pellicano steps up to cross.
P: Ms. Kerlin, nice seeing you again. (I miss the question that he asks her.)
A: He wanted me to know that myself and my co-counsel, Pat Dixon, had been investigated (by the defense in the Jones case). A document had been generated by Danny Davis. In cluded in that document was a simple statement saying, Mr. Pellicano was to "take you out." Davis called Ms. Kerlin's personal friend to get information about her.
Ms. Kerlin testifies in an answer to another question, "Yes, I believe you were investigating me." She then says, "You declined to meet with me and my co-counsel, once you learned that our investigator would be there to tape record the meeting independently.
Ms. Kerlin goes on to talk about how someone called her cell phone, pretending to be her service provider wanting to know if she was the primary user of her phone number. She immediately hung up and called her wireless provider from another phone to try to verify that they were not making that type of calls. She answer's another question by Pellicano with, "You didn't ge along with Mr. Davis and that's why you left the case. Pellicano mentions several defense attorney names that Mr. Jones went through and one of them is a Mr. Shapiro. And I'm thinking, gee, that's three names so far, connected to the Spector case that I've heard in this case!
The prosecution gets up to redirect. Ms. Kerlin says that Pellicano is a character. She testifies about threatening phone calls that were made to all the Jane Doe's in the Jones case. Threatening phone calls to the Jane Doe's boyfriends. Threatening phone calls to the Jane Doe's employers. There was also an individual placed in one Jae Doe's acting class to intimidate her.
Q: Break ins, threats, hang up phone calls, did those matters help your case?
Q: Pellicano was on that case until May, 1998?
A: Pellicano was still on the case interviewing Jane Doe's boyfriend at his office in May.
The prosecution asks some redirect questions and then Mr. Arneson's attorney asks some questions.
Q: Do you ahve any information that Mr. Arneson was involved in the break in?
Q: Do you have any information that Mr. Arneson was involved in the phone calls?
Q: Do you have any information that Mr. Arneson was involved in the harassment?
A: We didn't investigate. We had a very strong suspicion.
Ms. Kerlin states that the DA's office made every effort to keep the names of the victims out of the press. Under further questioning, she goes onto say that, "The rape victims were not public figures."
There is more redirect and recross and then we are given a 15 minute break. I need it. My back is screaming in pain and even standing up to try to strech it out doesn't help. Outside in the hall I sit on a bench to rest my back and look out the window. Everyone I see is on their cell phones.
10:45 am back in the courtroom. I see Pellicano in his seat with his arms crossed over his chest. The jury is still out and one of the defense attorney's is making a motion to strike some of the evidence being admitted. One of the prosecutors, is submitting that the audio evidence, exhibits #1 through 69 (I think I might have gotten that wrong and it's 39). I miss it, but I don't think a decision is made on whether or not to admit every item. My stomach starts to growl, and I'm hoping I can get through the rest of the day.
A slender hispanic looking woman with heavily streaked blond hair enters the courtroom. She's wearing, what I can only describe as a very tailored looking leopard jacket. It's almost on the edge of tacky looking, but since it fits her so well it's not real bad. This is the next witness and she takes the stand.
Lily LeMasters. Pellicano smiles and waves at this witness. Ms. LeMasters worked for Pellicano Investigation Agency from the summer of 1996 to sometime in 2001. Her title was Executive and Personal Assistant to the President. She held that title the entire time she worked for Pellicano.
All incoming calls to the Agency were filtered through her. She did very little typing. She ran credit reports and also attended to Pellicano's "personal" needs. Pellicano handled all the clients and she placed all the phone calls for Pellicano. She scheduled his day, including medical and dental appointments. Towards the end of her time at the Agency, she issued checks on a "fill in" basis. When she started there, she was making approximately five to six hundred a week, after taxes. Whe she left she was making approximately $800 a week or $40,000 a year, after taxes.
A diagram of the office is put up on the screen and Ms. LeMasters identified which offices were hers and what the other rooms were used for. Her office was directly next to Pellicano's. One room is identified as the "War Room" where computers and files were set up. Another room is identified as "The Lab" which was mostly used for forensic and audio work.
After a time, she developed a personal and intimate relationship with Pellicano. She can't say exactly when it started and when it ended. It started approximately in the middle of her term of employment there. The relationship lasted more than a year and less than two. It ended when she started dating the man she eventually married. She left the Agency in April of 2001. She said her leaving was precipitated by some arguments with Pellicano. At the office she fainted and passed out. Paramedics came to the office. Her doctor told her she was under too much stress. After she left the company she remained in contact with Pellicano and had no animosity towards him.
Q: Did you have any contact with him when the search warrants were executed?
Ms. LeMasters admits that when she was first interviewed by the FBI she was not truthful with them. She says she wasn't truthful at that time because she wanted to protect him (Pellicano) and she was on medication. She didn't think that she could reveal that information at that time. After that, she obtained legal counsel and spoke again with the FBI. During that second interview, she then provided answers to their questions, including wiretapping.
LeMasters was offered a use immunity agreement. Her testimony can't be used against her in future prosecutions. Today, she has no counsel present. She states that she was medicated during that first interview because she had recently miscarried.
Her duties were to open case files. She checked for DMV and criminal reports. Personal information, criminal rpeorts, DMV reports, that information would all go in the case file. Pellicano would get this information sometimes for the client, sometimes for others related to the case. She would receive this information as well as other people in the office. Pellicano would handle the criminal history.
The prosecutor asks LeMasters to identify Mark Arneson, and his attorney quickly stands up and says, "We stipulate to the ID your honor."
LeMasters goes on to explain Arneson would fax into the office criminal reports that he accessed via his position as a LAPD officer. Pellicano would have the criminal record retyped so that the that the faxed information would be neat and presentable with the actual criminal history all printed out.
A gentleman slips into the courtroom and sits in the row that I'm sitting in. His right arm is a prosthetic hook.
An example of a client document is put up on the overhead screen and it shows that the information that is removed is the sending officer's name. The staff was told to remove the sending officer's name when the reports were retyped. The original fax would be attached to the new document and Pellicano would review it. If everything was okay, the original faxed document would be shredded. DMV information would be obtained from the same officers. These documents would go to Pellicano. Occasionally she retrieved them from the fax machine. They would be retyped, just like the criminal reports.
LeMasters testifies that she never really stopped to think about the fact that the document would say "FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT USE ONLY." The DMV documents would also go to Pellicano along with the reformatting. Pellicano would review them and the original would be shredded. LeMasters states that they would sometimes receive DMV photos in addition to the DMV report. Wayne Reynolds would handle that. If the documents didn't go to her then they went to the Lab or directly into the client file. The photo documents would be in color.
The office received credit information from a Bill Parker, whose nickname was "Bad Billy," who lived somewhere in the state of Florida, or a Sharon Whitaker (sp?) who worked for an auto dealership. Credit information was not obtained on every case. That information would be reformatted as well and the original shredded.
LeMasters is asked if she knows the name of Bilal Baroody. A document is put up on the overhead that has several versions of the name and spelling. Bilal Adele Baroody.
Another document and case file, Bo Zenga, Vincent Bo Zenga is put up on the overhead and LeMasters says that name also sounds familiar.
All calls for Pellicano were filtered through her. She logged all calls that came into the office except for those who worked for Pellicano: Ray Turner, Mark Arneson and Craig Stevens (another officer who worked for the Beverly Hills PD).
Ray Turner, worked for the phone company. He provided Pellicano with phone information and did phone tapping. He would bring "rolls of tapes with number on them into the office. It looked like a calculator tape of numbers." That information, once reformatted, you had addresses and names and numbers from those tapes. Mr. Pellicano was mostly in charge of wiretaps. LeMasters mentions there were two others who worked in the Lab. A "Reynolds" and another name I don't catch.
It wasn't very long after she started with the company, as early as 1996, she knew that Arneson was providing information to Pellicano. She would call Arneson, but that was very seldom. When she would make a call, most of the time it was a page. The page number she would use was either 1111 or 4444. She can't remember which. She paged him quite often, at least a couple of times a week. It was 1111 or 4444 for either Arneson or Ray Turner. Sometimes she called Arneson at home to obtain criminal reports and DMV reports.
There were times when she could overhear the conversations in Pellicano's office if the door was left open.
At this point I make some notes to identify the defendant's and their attorneys, even if it's only by descriptions so I can do some research later. The black man in the bottom front row is Ray Turner and his attorney is an Asian woman. Haven't quite heard or grasped her name yet since she's only crossed a witness a few times. I don't know the defendant next to him in the front row, but Steven tells me that his attorney is Adam Braun, son of Harlan Braun. Pellicano rounds out the last person in the front row, sitting by himself. In the second row is the man who introduced himself to me and Steven tells me his first name is Abner. His attorney has not stood up to cross so I haven't heard is name either. Next to Abner in the second row is the former police officer, Arneson, and his attorney Chad Hummel; he's the one who has the nicest looks and has performed the most cross besides Pellicano. (I later identify all the defendants and their attorneys.)
I notice that the Judge rarely looks at the witness. She sometimes rests her chin or cheek on her hand, her elbow on her desk. It's 11:45 and as I look over at the jurors, it appears that some might be taking notes but I have no idea if they are.
LeMasters testifies that the phone log was also used as the visitor log, but when Arneson came into the office, those visits were not recorded. It was best if Arneson was not seen by Pellicano's clients. I note that Pellicano leans back and crosses his arms during this testimony.
LeMasters admits that she went to Arneson's house once, possibly twice for a "dinner date."
Q: Did Arneson use Pellicano for organized crime tips?
A: I can't remember.
The witness states that sometimes he (Arneson) did surveillance or served as a bodyguard. Approximately four or five times a year Arneson worked surveillance. He also worked as a bodyguard for celebrities at major events; The Grammys, music awards, etc. So he worked a couple of times a year providing security and a couple of times a year providing surveillance.
The prosecutor clarifies that Arneson would be contacted weekly throughout her employment. She states that Craig Stevens, who worked for the Beverly Hills PD, also provided similar information as Arneson, although Arneson provided the majority of the information to the Agency. LeMasters states that Stevens was paid in cash while Arneson was usually paid by check and paid in cash occasionally. There were times where she would be the one issuing the checks, and the check to Arneson was approximately $2,500 every month. She did see Stevens in the office. "He was there; there would be cash and then it's gone."
Some of Pellicano's clients paid in cash. She saw that happen. Cash was also kept on hand at the office, "in a safe deposit box. Some cash at the office and some at the bank."
It's not clear in my notes, but I believe that the next questions are now addressing Turner.
Q: He would have the materials on him when he would come into the office?
Q: He didn't come as often?
A: Probably once a month. Some months she didn't see him and some months more often.
LeMasters learned within the first six months from Galyne, Ms. Pillazzo, that Turner was working for Pellicano. Ms. Pillazzo was concerned about Ray because they had a romantic relationship. Ms. Pillazzo left the company after LeMasters had been there approximately three years.
Turner would come in to see Mr. Pellicano. She observed Turner working on the phone lines for the building just outside the office. She saw him doing that about four times during her employment.
I notice that Abner has his head down and eyes closed. I wonder if he's falling asleep.
Q: Do you know of a case where Mr. Turner wiretapped?
A: The Maguire matter. It was a divorce between the Maguires. Susan and Robert Maguire. Robert was a developer. Everyone in the office worked on the case. LeMasters accompanied Turner to rent an apartment (to set up the computer to wiretap). She rented the apartment.
The Judge calls for a 5-8 minute break. Abner stands, and exits the courtroom. Steven tells me that the individuals sitting right in front of us are ex-FBI agents. Mr. Turner walks the hallway and looks out the windows onto the street. As his eyes catch mine I smile. I forgot to mention that when the witness was asked to identify Turner on the stand, Turner smiled and waved to LeMasters.
Out in the hallway, Professor Stan Goldman is here! Steven and Ciaran greet him and ask him why he is here. Professor Goldman says that people have asked him to comment on the case and he says he hasn't because he hasn't seen the case. So, he came down today to observe some of the proceedings. I take this opportunity to ask Professor Goldman if this is the norm in Federal Court for a Judge skipping a lunch break and replacing it with several small breaks throughout the day. Professor Goldman mentions at least one other Judge's name, possibly two who hold court this way.
Another possibility is that Judge Fischer is incredibly busy with the behind the scenes management of this case as well as keeping on top of her other cases and this is probably how she makes time to take care of other judicial matters. Just the same, I wonder how the court reporter deals with such a grueling day? Are there two court reporters? They are so far away from me (that deep courtroom) I didn't notice. I make a note to myself to consider putting on a back brace when I get home since my back is in constant pain now.
Federal Judges are nominated by the president and then the U.S. Senate votes to either reject or confirm them. Once they're on the bench it takes impeachment by the House of Representatives. Once a Judge is impeached, what they can then do is run for congress, like Alcee Hastings did. Later, I research and find out that Judge Fischer was nominated by George W. Bush in 2003 and the Senate confirmed her later that year. Before that she was a Superior Court judge from 1007 to 2003. In U.S. history, only thirteen federal judges have been impeached since 1789.
Back on the stand, LeMasters states that she would go to the apartment to check on the set up of the computer (with the Telesleuth program to tape captured calls) and Pellicano would be with her. There was a problem once where Pellicano called Ray to get over to the apartment.
I look over at the defense platform and Abner is not there, but his attorney is.
She listened to recording of Richard McGuine and his girlfriend at the time. She was asked to translate the conversations because they were in Spanish. Pellicano is leaning back in his chair, his fingers interlaced.
LeMasters saw Ray Turner get paid in cash. Ginger Martin also provided phone information like Ray did however she never came into the office and she only arranged a phone call set up. (I'm not really understanding my notes on that point, but that's exactly what I wrote.) LeMasters learned about her much later. Eighty percent of the work was provided by Ray and about twenty percent provided by Martin. All of this work was on the direction of Pellicano. LeMasters was certain that there were cash payments because she set up the envelopes and mailed the payments via FedEx.
Q: How often would this be done over the course of the year?
A: Four to five times.
LeMasters is not clear on when Martin specifically stopped (working for Pellicano). Martin got married and moved away. LeMasters is not sure if she continued to provide telephone information to Pellicano afterwards.
"Telesleuth" is discussed. It was a software program that was developed to "get" telephone conversations. Though this program and what ever device was attached to a phone line, a conversation could be copied directly to a computer, creating a sound file. (Genius back then, but illegal.) The program also encrypted the sound file. This meant no one could access it unless they had the password.
Pellicano never described the purpose of the Telesleuth software to her or who created it. Kachikan (when he came into the office) would be in the Lab, the War Room, or Pellicano's office. LeMasters identifies Kevin Kachikan, who is sitting in the front row on the defense platform. Most every time she saw him he was wearing headphones while in the Lab. Pellicano told her that this program would benefit the Agency.
Pellicano did not set this up to sell to law enforcement (LE). She doesn't recall any instance where he was trying to sell Telesleuth to LE. He had a device in his office that specifically recorded calls. She was ordered to turn on a switch. She didn't know much beyond that.
On occasion, she was asked to listen to conversations; in the Hughes matter and in the Kissy matter. Mostly she was asked to translate conversations. She listened to one conversation between Mr. Paris (Pares?) and Mr. Hughes. Hughes was a CEO (of Herbalife). She could tell that it was a wiretap because of the sound on the touch pad~ the numbers being called ~ and the tone of the conversation sounded like they were talking from phone to phone. She listened to this conversation in the Lab.
Mr. Marconi would listen to calls in the lab with headphones on and watch the screen that made the moving wavelengths when a voice spoke. There was another case involving Mr. Hughes, where (it appears) Susan Hughes was the client and Mr. Hughes was wiretapped. Hughes was seeing someone and ended up marrying her, Darcy LaPere. (sp?)
Pellicano obtained DMV information for Ms. Hughes. Susan would come into the office to listen to the conversations.
A lawyer, Ed Masry, hired Pellicano in a dispute with Kissandra Cohen. Pellicano used "nick names" to identify his cases, hence, the "Kissy" matter. She listened to calls in that matter on the direction of Pellicano. Kissandra and her boyfriend were taped and she could tell it was a phone call by the dialing of the numbers. LeMasters thinks she listened to multiple calls on that case.
LeMasters was asked about a name that sounds like "Miz Sherry." (I'm thinking this might be the Nicherie brothers, one a defendant and the other already in jail.) She recognizes the name. She associates a male and female to this name. Then she states its two brothers. She saw them on a couple of occasions. She saw them in the Lab at Pellicano's office.
Q: Chris Rapenport (sp?)? (I can't find a similar name on the witness list, and it might be a Pellicano client.)
A: That was a client. A case she remembered. She remembered him because he was flashy.
Q: James Orr?
A: She remembers that name because that was a matter for Farrah Fawcett.
Q: Linda Doucett?
A: That's also a name she remembers.
Q: Was a criminal history obtained?
A: Yes. There were certain names that are not as common and you can relate them to something.
Chad Hummel gets up to cross the witness first.
He verifies that she worked for Pellicano for four or five years. As he's crossing her, I notice that Pellicano wears a gold band on his ring finger. I'm wondering if his wife is in court, supporting him.
Q: As far as you know, Mr. Arneson was not involved in wiretapping?
A: (I miss her answer here.)
Q: Did you know that Mr. Pellicano applied for a trademark patent?
A: I can't verify that Mr. Arneson "wasn't" in the War Room.
Q: He never gave Mr. Arneson any of Pellicano's investigation files? You never saw that?
Looking at the defense platform, I notice Abner making some nervous like movements. He's taping his fingers in front of his mouth. Then he leans forward with his elbows on the counter; then he crosses his arms.
LeMasters indicates that on some cases Arensen knew who Pellicano's client was.
Q: Name some?
A: Mr. Cruise. Not sure. We were trying to find out who was following Tom Cruise.
Brad Grey was a client and he came (to the office). She never discussed cases with Arensen. Ed Masry was another case. She states she never discussed a client's case with Arensen. Bert Fields is another name she recognized. It was never discussed why Mr. Fields hired Mr. Pellicano. Now Hummel is trying to get the witness to say that she made check payments out to Mark Surveillance, instead of Mark Arneson, but she says "No, she made checks out to Mark Arensen." She doesn't know who Arensen was a bodyguard for at the Grammy's, Emmy's and music awards. She admits that she never saw cash handed directly to Arensen.
Hummel now points out the ex-FBI agents sitting in front of us and asks her about them. Stanley Ornalis (sp?) is the big barrel chested man on the left, and beside him is a woman. Hummel is asking her about her first interview with FBI agents in April 2003, and her second interview on July 21st, 2003. He's challenging her that in her second interview, she never said she was trying to protect someone.
Q: In that interview, were you trying to avoid criminal liability yourself?
Q: Are you hoping to avoid criminal liability today?
Q: As you sit on the stand today, you are not sure if Mr. Arensen received cash?
A: What I'm saying is I'm not sure since I don't have full recollection.
Sometimes she mailed checks to Arensen's home. Sometimes for him to pick up from the office. Sometimes he was in full uniform when he picked up his checks.
Q: You don't remember Mr. Arensen offering to help you with a problem you were having regarding your child and a boyfriend or husband?
A: I'm sorry but I don't recall.
Q: At some times, there was a big commotion, regarding purging Mr. Arensen's name from Pellicano files regarding the John Gordon Jones case?
A: She doesn't recall why. Just that documents had to be purged.
Q: Isn't because Mr. Arneson said, "I can't be connected to this case!"
OBJECTION! HERESAY! SUSTAINED!
LeMasters can't recall where that information came from (for the Jones case). Whether it was Arneson or the Beverly Hills cop. LeMasters is confronted with her grand jury testimony on an issue.
LeMasters is then questioned about a witness who has already testified, Tarita Virtue.
Q: Ms. Virtue, when did she come to work (at the agency)?
A: 1998 or 1999. She worked in the office. She didn't work with me.
LeMasters is asked to point out the office that Ms. Virture worked in on the office diagram. She points out office "M" and I squint my eyes trying to distinguish which office that is.
Q: Did you form any opinion about Ms. Virtue's truthfulness?
Q: Did you form any opinion about Ms. Virtue's honesty, or character?
A: No, no.
Q: Did you find Mr. Pellicano to be secretive?
Abner's attorney stands up to cross the witness about Ms. Virtue.
She was hired as a clerk to do clerical work. She worked on files, transcribed and typed up information. LeMasters testifies that she was present during the job interviews with Ms. Virtue. "Someone else may have been there (also)." She has a vague recollection if she asked her any questions at the interview(s). She can't remember. "The questions that Pellicano asks, he had this test he give people and she failed. It had something to do with letters and numbers." LeMasters can't remember if she was hired at the first interview or later interviews. Towards the end of LeMasters employment, Ms. Virtue was doing more of the transcribing.
Q: Were you familiar with all of the clients that the Pellicano Agency had from 1996 to 2001?
Q: Did you deal with them on a face to face basis?
Q: That a number of them had been referred by attorneys?
Q: Bert Fields?
Q: Victor Sherman?
Q: Wild West & Epstein? (sp?)
A: Yes. Both lawyers and clients were Pellicano's clients.
Q: How was Mr. Stevens contacted? Would you, on some occasions call Mr. Stevens?
A: Only as Mr. Pellicano instructed.
On many questions LeMasters just can't remember. She does recall the name "Mis Sherry" (sp?) but that's because the name is unusual. She doesn't recall anything about the case, thinking that it might be two brothers. The ex-FBI agent in front of me, Corey Lyle, is identified and Ms. LeMasters is asked if she went over her testimony with Ms. Lyle before court.
A: She didn't go over any testimony. Just a couple of questions.
That's about it for testimony for the day. Once the jury leaves the room, the prosecutors make a statement that the defense has violated the gag order (again), stating a complete transcript of an audio recording (evidence) has appeared in the Huffington Post. A bit of research and I find that this possibly has something to do with the HP's reporter in the courtroom Allison Hope Weiner, (who was sitting directly behind me). Apparently, Ms. Weiner used her California Bar Association ID to pass herself off as one of Pellicano's attorneys to get in the jail to speak to him. I understand she's person non gratis, barred from the jail for that stunt.
As I leave the courtroom, I chat with Steven a bit. I can barely stand; my back is in so much pain and I have to walk over to a marble counter to support myself. I don't think I'll be able to be back inside this courtroom until my back feels a bit better.
I almost forgot to mention that I quietly overheard Phil Spector as a brief topic during one of the fifteen minute breaks. Apparently, several prominent reporters (not covering this trial) think that the defense motion to remove Judge Larry Paul Fidler from the case has merit. Did Fidler cross the line into prosecution bias when, after throwing out special instruction number three, he went into his chambers and came out with a new instruction he wrote that was a prosecutors dream come true? Time will tell. I have no idea what the process is, or who it is specifically that rules on a motion to remove a judge from a case. Any legal eagles out there want to tackle that question?
Special thanks to Intrepid who helped with some story links.
Huffington Post at the Pellicano Trial Coverage by Allison Hope Weiner
Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily