Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano was set free Friday -- on his 75th birthday -- from a Los Angeles federal prison after serving more than 15 years behind bars for bugging the telephones of celebrities, attorneys and executives.
Pellicano served his sentence in the low-security federal penitentiary on Terminal Island. He was found guilty, in two trials, of dozens of felony racketeering, conspiracy and wiretapping counts. He must now serve three years under supervised release.
Five other defendants were convicted of multiple offenses stemming from what an appeals court described as a "widespread criminal enterprise offering illegal private investigation services in Southern California."
Operating out of an office on the Sunset Strip, Pellicano was hired for decades by some of Hollywood's wealthiest deal-makers to dig up dirt on their own or clients' enemies.
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As detailed in the first trial, Pellicano's clients included Hollywood power brokers such as entertainment lawyer Bert Fields, Paramount Pictures chief Brad Grey, producer-financier Steve Bing, entertainment czar Ron Meyer, talent agent Michael Ovitz, Madonna manager Freddy DeMann and comedian Chris Rock.
The list of those targeted included some well-known names: Sylvester Stallone, Kevin Nealon, Keith Carradine, the late Garry Shandling and the late producer Aaron Russo.
A raft of civil lawsuits against Pellicano and the companies and agencies he corrupted have made their way their way through the courts over the past 11 years.