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Archive for December 15th, 2008

Hollywood Private Eye Anthony Pellicano Sentenced to 15 Years

Anthony Pellicano/youtube

Anthony Pellicano/youtube

The end of a Hollywood-like life was a painful one for Anthony Pellicano. The only snooping he’ll be doing will be behind bars.

By Victoria Kim
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — Former Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano was sentenced to 15 years in prison this afternoon for running an illegal wiretapping operation that gathered information for a list of well-to-do clients, including celebrities, attorneys and business executives.
U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer’s sentence was longer than the five-year, 10-month punishment recommended by the Probation Department.
Pellicano, whose clients and victims ranked among Hollywood’s biggest stars and most powerful executives, was convicted in two criminal trials earlier this year of 78 counts, including wiretapping, computer fraud and wire fraud.
In court papers filed in October, prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Pellicano, 64, to more than 15 years in prison, saying the sleuth was charged with, and convicted of, only a fraction of the crimes he actually committed.
For Full Story

National Lampoon Executive Charged With Stock Fraud: And That’s No Joke

Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

For National Lampoon , the purveyor of humor, which owns interest in such classic films as Animal House, Monday was no laughing matter.
The company’s chief Executive Daniel Laikin, 46, was among seven people charged in a stock fraud scheme that involved National Lampoon and two other companies that artificially inflated stock prices, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Philadelphia.
The investigation, which included the Security Exchange Commission, involved a government undercover “cooperating witness” who was paid a kickback by the defendants to make purchases in the “targeted stock with the objective of artificially inflating it’s value,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
According to the charges against National Lampoon’s Laikin, between March and June 2008,  Laikin conspired with a company consultant to pay people, including the government informant, to artificially inflate the price of National Lampoon stock.
One of the people they paid enlisted a Rochester, N.Y. stock promoter who was given about $40,000 to make purchases of National Lampoon stock with the intent to drive up share price, the U.S. Attorneys office said.
Laikin indicated that he wanted the stock to rise from $2 per share to $5 to make it more attractive for strategic partnerships and acquisitions, authorities said. Three of the defendants in Monday’s  case were directly tied to National Lampoon. Others were linked to Advatech Corp of West Palm Beach or Swedish Vegas Inc., of Arcadia, California, authorities said.
Janice K. Fedarcyk, special agent in charge of the FBI in Philadelphia said in a prepared statement that the defendants “defrauded all of the legitimate market investors who bought and sold shares in these companies. The entire investment market suffers when individuals violate legal and fiduciary trust of their positions.”
Marcy Goot, a spokewoman for National Lampoon in Los Angeles, could not be reached immediately for comment.

Secret Service Acted “Appropriately” in Bush-Shoe Throwing, But Response Under Review

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Secret Service said Monday that its agents responded “appropriately” to Sunday’s shoe throwing incident in Iraq involving President Bush, but  the incident was under review.
“We’re looking at the incident to see if there’s anything that we can do better,” said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan. “We do that after any foreign trip.”
“The thing just happened so we’re trying to get all the information together,” he said, adding that the agents had yet to return to the states.
He said people attending the conference were checked for weapons and underwent background checks to assure they were representing their respective media companies.
He said Secret Service agents and Iraqi security acted appropriately and immediately started moving toward the man after he threw the first shoe.
The reporter was identified as Muntazer al-Zaida, who works for the independent Iraqi television station Al-Baghdaddia.
Agence France Press reported Monday that the Iraqi government was facing mounting pressure from Arab world to release the shoe-throwing reporter. The reporter jumped up during the press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, hurled the shoes at Bush and yelled “It is the farewell kiss, you dog.”
Agence France reported that the man’s colleagues in Baghdad said he had long been planning to throw shoes at Bush.

Did Chicago Tribune End Up Blowing Part of the Fed’s Case Against Gov. Blagojevich?

The Chicago Tribune’s decision to go to print may have cost prosecutors some other big fish in the scandal.

By Cam Simpson
Wall Street Journal
CHICAGO — Conventional wisdom holds that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald ordered the FBI to arrest Rod Blagojevich before sunrise Tuesday in order to stop a crime from being committed. That would have been the sale of the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
But the opposite is true: Members of Fitzgerald’s team are livid the scheme didn’t advance, at least for a little longer, according to some people close to Fitzgerald’s office. Why? Because had the plot unfolded, they might have had an opportunity most feds can only dream of: A chance to catch the sale of a Senate seat on tape, including the sellers and the buyers.
The precise timing of Tuesday’s dramatic, pre-dawn arrest was not dictated by Fitzgerald, nor was it dictated by the pace of Blagojevich’s alleged “crime spree.” It was dictated by the Chicago Tribune, according to people close to the investigation and a careful reading of the FBI’s affidavit in the case.
At Fitzgerald’s request, the paper had been holding back a story since October detailing how a confidante of Blagojevich was cooperating with his office.
Gerould Kern, the Tribune’s editor, said in a statement last week that these requests are granted in what he called isolated instances. “In each case, we strive to make the right decision as reporters and as citizens,” he said.
But editors decided to publish the story on Friday, Dec. 5, ending the Tribune’s own cooperation deal with the prosecutor.
For Full Story

Fed Leaked Info to the Press About the NSA Eavesdropping On Private U.S. Citizens

Depending on  your perspective, Thomas M. Tamm is a hero who exposed some wrongdoing at the highest levels of government. Or he’s a traitor who tried to undermine the war on terrorism. Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff presents a fascinating tale.

By Michael Isikoff
Newsweek
WASHINGTON — Thomas M. Tamm was entrusted with some of the government’s most important secrets. He had a Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance, a level above Top Secret. Government agents had probed Tamm’s background, his friends and associates, and determined him trustworthy.
It’s easy to see why: he comes from a family of high-ranking FBI officials. During his childhood, he played under the desk of J. Edgar Hoover, and as an adult, he enjoyed a long and successful career as a prosecutor. Now gray-haired, 56 and fighting a paunch, Tamm prides himself on his personal rectitude. He has what his 23-year-old son, Terry, calls a “passion for justice.” For that reason, there was one secret he says he felt duty-bound to reveal.
In the spring of 2004, Tamm had just finished a yearlong stint at a Justice Department unit handling wiretaps of suspected terrorists and spies-a unit so sensitive that employees are required to put their hands through a biometric scanner to check their fingerprints upon entering. While there, Tamm stumbled upon the existence of a highly classified National Security Agency program that seemed to be eavesdropping on U.S. citizens.
For Full Story

Convicted Private Eye Anthony Pellicano Leaves a Trail of Scars

Famous people like to leave legacies. Convicted private eye Anthony Pellicano left a legacy that will go down in Hollywood history for his world-famous, underhanded snooping. Today he’s scheduled to be sentenced.

Anthony Pellicano/youtube photo

Anthony Pellicano/youtube photo

By The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Victims of former Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano say they have never been able to free themselves from the emotional and financial fallout caused by crimes he committed while wiretapping the rich and famous.
A former reporter says she has nightmares about being hunted and raped. A mother says her daughter is mocked by other kids and their parents. An actress who once appeared in a popular television series says she has found little work since.
They are among the victims who have submitted letters to the federal judge who is scheduled to sentence Pellicano on Monday. The former private investigator is already in custody since being convicted of a total of 78 counts, including wiretapping, racketeering and wire fraud, in two separate trials earlier this year.
Federal prosecutors have recommended in court documents that Pellicano, 64, serve nearly 16 years in prison for running a criminal enterprise and for becoming a “high-priced thief who fraudulently obtained prominence through the harm that he wantonly inflicted on others.”
For Full Story

Read Victims’ Letters

Aberrant Behavior at Airports Takes No Holiday: 21 Guns Seized in One Week

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — As we approach Christmas, it’s clear aberrant behavior at our friendly airports isn’t taking a holiday.
The latest figures from the Transportation and Safety Administration show that 21 firearms were found at checkpoints between Dec. 1 and Dec. 7 and 17 passengers were arrested due to suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents.
What’s more, two “artfully concealed prohibited items” were found at checkpoints and there were 15 incidents involving a checkpoint closure, a terminal evacuation or sterile area breach.

Republicans Preparing to Give A.G. Nominee Eric Holder a Hard Time

Eric Holder/law firm photo

Eric Holder/law firm photo

Republicans see enough flaws in the Eric Holder noiminee to at least give the new Obama administration a little heartache before the inevitable: his confirmation.
David Ingram and Joe Palazzolo
Legal Times
The disagreement on the Senate floor last week was ostensibly over timing.
While congressional leaders negotiated behind closed doors over proposed loans to Detroit automakers, several Republicans took the floor Wednesday and Thursday to discuss Covington & Burling’s Eric Holder Jr. They called for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to delay the Jan. 8 confirmation hearing for Holder, who of late has been dogged by his involvement in pardoning fugitive financier Marc Rich in the waning hours of the Clinton administration.
But the comments from Republicans went further. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama questioned Holder’s fitness to be attorney general. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa said he wanted to delve into Holder’s career in private practice. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma threatened to prevent a vote.
Republicans have also asked the Justice Department to hand over reams of documents from Holder’s time as U.S. Attorney and deputy attorney general, touching on subjects as seemingly arcane as his involvement in the Clinton administration’s decision to allow an American aerospace company to export a communications satellite to the Chinese.
For Full Story