LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano has been set free from a Los Angeles federal prison after serving more than 15 years behind bars for bugging the telephones of celebrities, attorneys and executives.
Pellicano, who was released Friday in time for his 75th birthday, served his sentence in the low-security federal penitentiary on Terminal Island. He was found guilty, in two trials -- the last in 2008, -- of dozens of felony racketeering, conspiracy and wiretapping counts. He must now serve three years under supervised release.
Five other defendants were convicted of multiple offenses stemming from what an appeals court described as a “widespread criminal enterprise offering illegal private investigation services in Southern California.”
Operating out of an office on the Sunset Strip, Pellicano was hired for decades by some of Hollywood's wealthiest deal-makers to dig up dirt on their own or clients' enemies.
As detailed in the first trial, Pellicano's clients included Hollywood power brokers such as entertainment lawyer Bert Fields, Paramount Pictures chief Brad Grey, producer-financier Steve Bing, entertainment czar Ron Meyer, talent agent Michael Ovitz, Madonna manager Freddy DeMann and comedian Chris Rock.
The list of those targeted included some well-known names: Sylvester Stallone, Kevin Nealon, Keith Carradine, the late Garry Shandling and the late producer Aaron Russo.
Pellicano's legal problems began in 2002, when reporter Anita Busch, who had penned negative articles about Ovitz, went to authorities after she found a dead fish, a rose and a note saying “Stop” inside the smashed windshield of her car.
The investigation led authorities to Pellicano's office, and the probe grew into a wide-ranging federal case that drew national attention.
“He served his time, and I hope that he decides to do something positive and productive with the remainder of his life,” Busch said in a statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times on Friday.
A raft of civil lawsuits against Pellicano and the companies and agencies he with whom he collaborated have made their way through the court system for more than a decade.