‘N.Y. Times’ Reporters Facing Subpoenas in Pellicano Case?

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By: E&P Staff

While much of the press continues to focus on the titillating Hollywood aspects of the sensational Anthony Pellicano case in Los Angeles, the threat to not just movie stars, but journalists, seems to be growing day by day.

For one thing, there?s a new federal probe: The influential legal publication Los Angeles Daily Journal has revealed that 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.

A court hearing is scheduled for Monday, at which the leak to the Times is expected to be come up.

The Times, which has been covering the case closely, often on the front page, published another story Wednesday, which included references to those summaries, ?which were given to attorneys involved in the case under a court order that they not be disclosed,? as Variety put it today.

Earlier, the Times cited the interview summaries in stories about Pellicano’s involvement with famed ex-agent Michael Ovitz, Paramount studio boss Brad Grey, and billionaire Ron Burkle (whose Yucaipa firm is bidding for the Knight Ridder papers still for sale).

The Times’ latest story, by David M. Halbfinger and Allison Hope Weiner, opens: “A divorce lawyer-to-the-stars who frequently hired the private detective Anthony Pellicano was aware of at least one instance of his illegal wiretapping, an F.B.I. agent has said in a confidential investigative summary seen by The New York Times. In addition, Mr. Pellicano told his girlfriend last year that the divorce lawyer ‘had received wiretap information’ from him in another case, an F.B.I. agent wrote after interviewing her.”

As Variety reviewed the terrain today, ?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 New York Times published its first story citing the summaries on April 14, and three days later, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Saunders filed notice with the court that the protective order had been violated.

At her popular LA Weekly blog, Deadline Hollywood, Nikki Finke observed on Wednesday: ?Pellicano’s lawyer Steven Gruel strenuously denies he was the leaker?.Oh yeah, subpoenas are definitely in the futures of NYT’s Pellicano probers David Halbfinger and Allison Hope Weiner. I’m baking cakes with saws hidden inside for them.?

Finke asserted last week that the New York Times has surprisingly topped the home team, the Los Angeles Times, in its Pellicano coverage: ?The NYT is winning and the LAT is losing. In fact, this is shaping up as not even a fair fight.?

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