Former sleuth to the stars, Anthony Pellicano, is finally seeing his day in court six years after a federal investigation launched into the private eye’s methods for obtaining private information on behalf of A-list clients including Paramount Pictures (VIA) chief Brad Grey and billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian.
The gumshoe allegedly employed a police detective and phone company employees to access the confidential information of Hollywood notables, including Sylvester Stallone and Garry Shandling. Pellicano has already served a 30-month prison sentence for federal weapons violations. He now faces a 110-count federal indictment for racketeering, wiretapping and witness tampering. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
“People tap phones lines for one of three reasons—money, power, sex,” says Kevin Murray, of Murray Associates, which secures corporations against eavesdropping. Dr. Gordon Mitchell, president of the counterintelligence consultancy company, Future Focus agrees. “Oddly enough, in the private sector it isn’t usually a situation where the big powerful competitor is trying to get information, but some sort of soap opera is going on inside,” he says. “And usually you can preface the person you suspect with an ex. Ex-boyfriend, ex-husband ex-partner.” If you suspect that there is wiretap on one of your phone lines, you first want to establish a connection between the information loss and whoever you suspect is leaking it. If you can’t show a cause and effect relationship between the criminal and the crime, you can’t prosecute a case against an eavesdropper.
And while you’ll never know for sure if someone is listening in on your phone calls, you can work to prevent a tap from happening in the first place. “If you have a cordless [landline] phone, throw it away,” says Dr. Gordon Mitchell, president of the counterintelligence consultancy company, Future Focus. Conversations on cordless phones can be intercepted with simple $100 devices. (If you have a baby monitor, people can the use the same device to intercept that, too.)