articleSeagal Linked to Threat to L.A. Times Reporter
Fri Nov 22, 8:56 PM ET Add Entertainment - Reuters to My Yahoo!
By Gina Keating
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Action star Steven Seagal (news) and a Los Angeles private detective were linked on Friday to a bizarre harassment episode against a Los Angeles Times reporter probing alleged links between Seagal and the Mafia.
Anthony Pellicano, private eye to the stars, was charged on Friday with possessing illegal weapons after the FBI (news - web sites) searched his Los Angeles office for evidence that he hired an ex-convict suspected of threatening Times reporter Anita Busch in June.
According to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Stanley Ornellas, Pellicano hired 59-year-old Alexander Proctor to burn Busch's car to stop her from writing a negative article about one of Pellicano's celebrity clients. Proctor has been jailed since October on a charge of interference with commerce by threats of violence.
The affidavit did not name Pellicano's client, but in other court documents, Proctor named Seagal as that client.
"He said Pellicano hired him and there are statements that he made that indicated that Pellicano was working for Seagal," a law enforcement source close to the investigation said. "We don't know if that is credible or not credible."
Seagal's attorney Martin Pollner denied that the "Out for Justice" star had any involvement in the threats against Busch. He said Pellicano had been retained as an investigator in a civil lawsuit against Seagal, but the two were not "on speaking terms."
Pollner described Proctor's allegations as "an ongoing conspiracy to intimidate and discredit" Seagal that reads like a bad screenplay.
"This uncorroborated allegation by someone arrested is pure fiction and is nothing more than a transparent attempt to divert attention from himself and the real perpetrators," Pollner said. "This is part of an unrelenting campaign to disparage Mr. Seagal and reads like a bad screenplay."
Pellicano made his first court appearance on Friday afternoon, and was charged with possessing illegal weapons.
The weapons charges were not connected to the threats against Busch, said U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Thom Mrozek.
During the search of Pellicano's office, authorities seized a cache of plastic explosive, a detonating cord and blasting cap, two grenades, 15 to 20 bundles of cash bearing $10,000 wrappers and a number of pieces of jewelry, Ornellas' affidavit said.
Pellicano told FBI agents that the weapons "were from an old case of his and that he had forgotten they were there," the affidavit said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Saunders asked that Pellicano, who has no criminal record, be jailed without bail "as a danger to the community." The bail hearing was postponed until Wednesday at the request of Pellicano's attorney.
A Los Angeles Times spokesman had no comment about Pellicano's arrest or the allegation against Seagal.
Busch wrote three stories about an alleged extortion plot involving Seagal's former filmmaking partner, Julius Nasso, and Gambino crime family boss Anthony "Sonny" Ciccone. Authorities said Nasso and Ciccone conspired to extort money from Seagal after the martial arts action star ended his 10-year partnership with Nasso two years ago.
Ciccone instructed Nasso during a Feb. 2 meeting at a New York restaurant that he should demand $150,000 from Seagal for each movie he made without Nasso, authorities said. A terrified Seagal reportedly paid the mob $700,000.
On June 20, Busch, a longtime show business reporter and former editor of the Hollywood Reporter, found a dead fish, a rose and a note saying "STOP" on the hood of her car parked in front of her home. The vehicle's windshield was smashed.
Busch told police that shortly afterward she was approached by two men in a car who told her to stop writing the Seagal stories. In August, a Vanity Fair editor who wrote a feature about the plot reported being threatened at gunpoint by two men in a car.
Proctor was arrested in October outside his West Los Angeles home and charged with interfering with commerce by threats of violence for allegedly trying to stop the Times from printing the stories. The Times is owned by Chicago-based Tribune Co. .
Proctor has been jailed without bail since Oct. 16 because of his prior drug and burglary convictions and prosecutors' claim that he is a flight risk.