Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Anthony Pellicano: Wiretapper to the Stars

The Sin Eater

Actor Marlon Brando as The Godfather's Don Corleone
Actor Marlon Brando as The
Don Corleone

The only thing that currently stands between many of Hollywood's elite and a perp walk is Anthony Pellicano himself. His audio files are protected by sophisticated encryption software and only he knows the passwords. On the day he was scheduled to be released from prison on the explosives violation, he and six of his cohorts were hit with a 112-count indictment for wiretapping and illegally using law-enforcement databases for the purpose of "securing a tactical advantage in litigation by learning their opponents' plans, strategies, perceived strengths and weaknesses, settlement positions and other confidential information." Pellicano was denied bail and remains incarcerated. Though he seems to be between a rock and a hard place, he is in many ways the most powerful man in Hollywood. If he were to cut a deal with the government and give them access to his audio files, many prominent figures in Tinseltown would have to face trial.

Taylor with Todd
Taylor with Todd

Undoubtedly Pellicano is not enjoying imprisonment, but he is probably savoring the fact that he's holding all the cards. A self-styled tough guy from the streets of Chicago, he sees himself as the "Don Corleone" character in The Godfather, according to Vanity Fair. In fact, he even named his son Luca after Don Corleone's favorite enforcer, Luca Brazzi.

Pellicano joined the Army after being expelled from high school and was trained as a cryptographer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps. After his stint in the service, he returned to Chicago, where he took a job with the Spiegel catalogue's collections department, specializing in locating delinquent customers. In 1969, he went into business for himself as a private investigator. He became very interested in electronics and stayed current with the latest in espionage technology.

Mike Todd
Mike Todd

In the 1970s, he landed a few high-profile clients and got his name in the papers. Yoko Ono hired him to track down her missing daughter. In 1977, he found the body of Hollywood producer Mike Todd, who was Elizabeth Taylor's third husband. Todd had died in a plane crash. After his burial in Chicago, robbers looted the grave, looking for jewelry. The body had disappeared, and the Chicago police performed an exhaustive search of the cemetery. Days later Pellicano led a group of reporters directly to the spot in the cemetery where Todd's remains were hidden under a pile of leaves, a feat detectives at the time found "suspicious."

Pellicano eventually tired of Chicago. He felt it wasn't the kind of city where he could put his best talents to use. He wanted a place that needed a "sin eater," his term for someone who could make the sins of the rich and powerful vanish. He decided that Los Angeles was his kind of place, and in 1983, he moved there.

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