By: Robert Jablon, Associated Press Writer
(AP) Anthony Pellicano, who cultivated a tough-guy image as private investigator to the stars, isn’t going down on weapons charges without a fight.
Pellicano, 59, could face up to 33 months in prison when he is sentenced Friday in federal court, but he is trying to withdraw one of his two guilty pleas. U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian was scheduled to rule on the request Friday.
Pellicano, a one-time skip tracer from Chicago, built a career working as a private eye and security man for such clients as Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson.
Authorities raided his office last year, seeking evidence he hired a thug to threaten a journalist. Pellicano also remains the subject of a federal grand jury investigation into whether he illegally wiretapped celebrities.
Federal authorities have declined to provide details of the investigation.
Under a plea agreement, Pellicano pleaded guilty in October to a felony count of possessing unregistered firearms — two modified hand grenades — and a felony charge of possessing C-4 explosive. He began serving his prison term in November even though he had yet to be formally sentenced. He also could be fined from $6,000 to $60,000.
But last month he filed a motion to withdraw his plea on the grenade count, arguing the federal charge doesn’t apply to homemade weapons.
In documents filed Jan. 15, prosecutors asked for a 33-month sentence, citing an alleged plot to threaten Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch, the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter.
She was researching a possible link between actor Steven Seagal and reputed Mafia associate Julius Nasso in June 2002 when she found her car’s windshield smashed, a dead fish inside the vehicle with a rose in its mouth and a cardboard sign saying “Stop.”
Prosecutors said evidence showed Pellicano hired a man named Alex Proctor to intimidate Busch.
Pellicano, Seagal and Nasso have not been charged, and all have denied involvement.