December 11, 2003

FBI Probes Alleged Wiretaps, Sources Say

By John Ryan
Daily Journal Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES - The FBI is investigating allegations that celebrity sleuth Anthony Pellicano wiretapped prosecutors in a high-profile rape case against one of his clients, John Gordon Jones, according to sources familiar with the case.
Pellicano, who is serving a prison sentence on weapons charges, is also the target of a wide-ranging illegal-wiretapping probe by a federal grand jury.
As part of that investigation, sources said this week, federal agents are checking on whether Pellicano surreptitiously recorded the conversations of county prosecutors, including Karla Kerlin, the lead attorney on the Jones case.
Dubbed the "limousine rapist," Jones was charged in 1998 and 1999 with drugging women in Hollywood clubs, taking them home in his limousine and raping them. He was acquitted of numerous rape and kidnapping charges in 2001.
Pellicano's attorney, Donald Re, declined to comment in detail on the wiretap allegations.
Re said, however, that Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Saunders, who prosecuted the weapons case against his client, said at a court hearing earlier this year that he believed Pellicano had wiretapped a deputy district attorney. Re said Saunders wouldn't say who that attorney was.
Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, declined comment.
Wednesday, District Attorney Steve Cooley issued a statement calling on federal authorities to disclose what they know about any wiretapping of prosecutors.
"The possibility that criminal investigations and prosecutions may have been compromised by defense teams through illegal wiretapping casts a shadow over Los Angeles County's criminal justice processes," Cooley said.
"It is time for straight talk by federal authorities on this troubling issues," he said.
Jones' criminal defense lawyers, who have included at varying times such veterans as Ronald Richards and Richard Sherman, have said they had no reason to believe any prosecutors were wiretapped.
Kerlin declined to comment because of pending litigation. Jones sued Kerlin, Cooley and other prosecutors for malicious prosecution following his acquittal.
Attorney Gregg Goldfarb said that, during Jones' criminal case, he became aware that the district attorney's office was concerned that prosecutors may have been the victims of "Pellicano's high technology."
Goldfarb of the Law Offices of Gregg J. Goldfarb won $5.4 million in civil judgments against Jones on behalf of an alleged rape victim.
"In the course of the criminal case, we were advised by police and the district attorney's office that there may have been some surreptitious behavior going on," Goldfarb said earlier this week.
After that, Goldfarb said, he stopped having important conversations on the phone with his client and co-counsel.
William Pavelic, an investigative consultant for Jones, said he didn't know whether Pellicano wiretapped prosecutors. However, Pavelic said criminal defense attorney Daniel G. Davis, who represented Jones in 1999, asked the consultant to look into the background of Kerlin, a former Vegas showgirl.
Pavelic said by phone that Davis wanted him to find photographs of Kerlin, including nude pictures. Pavelic said that he thought it was a waste of time and not relevant to the case and that he refused to do the job.
Pellicano by this point was off the case, said Pavelic, who claims he refused to work for Jones until he got rid of Pellicano.
Davis did not return phone calls. Other sources familiar with the case said that Jones was angry with prosecutors for their handling of the case and that he requested the background checks himself.
Bradley Brunon, who assisted Davis in Jones' defense, said he didn't think that Davis or anyone else seriously considered researching prosecutors.
Though several attorneys knowledgeable with the Jones case doubt that Pellicano wiretapped prosecutors, many suspect he wiretapped Jones, his own client.
Barry Rothman, Jones' civil attorney, said that Pellicano surreptitiously wiretapped his client's home, recorded conversations relevant to the criminal case and exculpatory to Jones, but refused to release the tapes.
Rothman said this week that Jones will sue "Pellicano and others" for the alleged illegal wiretapping. Rothman declined to name other possible defendants.
"They were tapped without Mr. Jones' consent," Rothman said this week. "He was tapping his phones to control Mr. Jones."
Richard Sherman, who inherited the Jones defense in late 1999 from Daniel Davis, said he sought a court order to obtain wiretapped recordings from Jones' home. Sherman said memos he received from the previous defense team suggested that some telephone conversations were recorded. But a judge rejected his request.
In a February 2000 letter obtained by the Daily Journal, Sherman asked Pellicano for any recordings that the investigator may have had.
"Anthony, I have some very bad feelings about what went on in this case and have to get to the bottom of this mess," Sherman wrote.
Sherman said Pellicano declined to turn over any information.

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