Former private investigator Anthony Pellicano was sentenced here Monday to 15 years in prison for running an illegal wiretapping operation to gather secrets about Hollywood celebrities, attorneys and executives.
Pellicano, 64, who had an office in Hollywood, was hired for decades by some of the entertainment industry's wealthiest deal-makers to dig up dirt on enemies or to simply frighten them into backing down in business or personal confrontations.
U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer said that Pellicano's conduct "caused loss of confidence in government agencies" and "physical, psychological and emotional distress to his victims."
Prosecutors had asked in court papers that Pellicano be put in prison for almost 16 years on grounds that the 78 convictions returned against him reflect only a small portion of his long-running criminal enterprise. The judge agreed with prosecutors and imposed the stiff 15-year term.
Several of Pellicano's victims spoke during Monday's sentencing hearing, explaining that their lives had been shattered by Pellicano's campaign of intimidation against them.
During two separate trials completed earlier this year, witnesses testified that Pellicano utilized bribes of both law enforcement and telephone company employees, intimidation tactics and wiretaps of "investigative targets" that included actors, screenwriters, Hollywood agents and journalists.
Pellicano, a Chicago native, has been in custody for five years. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison after being arrested in 2002 for illegally possessing explosives.
Just before his release in 2004, Pellicano was indicted on federal racketeering and wiretapping charges for bugging the telephones of celebrity enemies of his Hollywood clients, a service for which he charged hundreds of thousands of dollars.