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LA private eye pleads no contest in threat case

FORMER Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano and an associate pleaded no contest yesterday to threatening a newspaper reporter who was working on a story about actor Steven Seagal's possible ties to organized crime.

Pellicano and Alexander Proctor entered their pleas in Superior Court and were sentenced to the maximum three years in prison for leaving a dead fish for then-Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said. A conspiracy charge was dismissed against the two as a result of their pleas.

"It's been a long time... for this to come to justice," Busch said. "I'm very glad to know that people can't threaten journalists in this country and get away with it."

According to court papers, Pellicano hired Proctor in 2002 to intimidate Busch, who found a bullet-sized hole on the windshield of her car along with a dead fish, a rose and a note with the word "Stop."

Busch told authorities she believed the threat stemmed from a story she was putting together on Seagal and his former producing partner, Julius Nasso. Earlier that year, Nasso was indicted with New York mob figures for plotting to extort money from Seagal.

Seagal denied hiring Pellicano and was never charged in the case.

The investigation led federal authorities to raid Pellicano's offices, where they found explosives, and he was later convicted of weapons charges. The raids also led to a federal wiretapping case. Pellicano was accused of wiretapping stars such as Sylvester Stallone and bribing police officers to run names of people, including comedian Garry Shandling, through law enforcement databases.

Authorities also found information on Busch containing her physical description, home address and the license plate number of her car, prosecutors said.

Pellicano was convicted of 78 counts including wiretapping, racketeering and wire fraud in two separate trials last year. He is serving 15 years in federal prison.

Proctor is serving 10 years on unrelated drug charges. The terms issued yesterday by Superior Court Judge William N. Sterling will be served concurrently with their remaining prison sentences.


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