LOS ANGELES (CN) — After 14 years, lawsuits accusing former “private investigator to the stars” Anthony Pellicano of illegally wiretapping celebrities and Hollywood A-listers are all but over.
The lawsuit by a former Los Angeles Times reporter — who began it all when she found a fish, a rose and a threatening note on her windshield — has settled.
Anita Busch has agreed to an undisclosed settlement with former super-agent and Disney president Michael Ovitz, whom she accused of hiring Pellicano to scare her off from reporting on him.
Busch and Ovitz “have resolved the case between them, and the case is going to be dismissed,” said her attorney, Evan Marshall of Herzog, Yuhas, Ehrlich & Ardel.
Once a potent fixer for the famous and powerful — including Tom Cruise, comedian Chris Rock and the late hotel and business mogul Kirk Kerkorian — Pellicano now is serving a 15-year sentence in federal prison for running a criminal enterprise that tapped phones and took other actions against some of his clients’ business and litigation opponents.
“At the height of [the Pellicano Investigative Agency]’s success, scores of people retained PIA for its often illegal services,” the Ninth Circuit said in a 2015 opinion.
His downfall began on June 20, 2002, when Busch discovered a fish with a rose in its mouth on her windshield, which had been punctured. Next to the fish was a card that said “Stop.”
After the FBI investigated, she sued Pellicano, Ovitz and several others. Among her allegations were that Ovitz, who co-founded the mega-agency CAA, had hired Pellicano to intimidate her from writing unflattering articles about him while he was trying to sell his then company, Artist Management Group.
Several more lawsuits followed against Pellicano, Ovitz and one-time star entertainment lawyer Terry Christensen, who is serving a three-year federal sentence for his part in the scheme. People the detective may have wiretapped also filed class actions for allowing the wiretaps against Pacific Bell Telephone Co., Los Angeles Police Department personnel and the city of Los Angeles.
Busch at one point even sued the FBI to ensure the agents who investigated Pellicano would testify when her main lawsuit went to trial.
Her claims against other defendants in her lawsuit, including a police officer and the telephone company, either were settled or dropped earlier. Pellicano himself was severed from the Ovitz claims in November, according to press accounts.
Marshall said all the other cases and class actions have been resolved or are in the final stages of closing out.
Busch’s suit is set to be formally dismissed in March.
“It was the first Pellicano case, and it’s the last Pellicano case,” Marshall said.
One of Ovitz’s attorneys, Jennifer Keller of Keller Anderle, said Tuesday that she could not discuss the details of the settlement. “I was looking forward to trying the case, but sometimes a settlement is in the interest of both parties,” she said. Ovitz’s other attorney, Eric M. George of Browne George Ross, did not return a call about the case.