Mogul Kirk Kerkorian got briefings from his high-powered attorney on what P.I. Anthony Pellicano was learning from illegal wiretaps of Kerkorian's ex-wife in their child-custody and support case, the New York Times reports tomorrow. Returning to the Pellicano beat with a pretty good get, reporters David Halbfinger and Allison Hope Weiner say that attorney Terry Christensen — who is under indictment for his role — assured Pellicano that Kerkorian was happy with the information being gleaned. What isn't clear is whether Kerkorian knew how Pellicano was obtaining the information.
Mr. Christensen stops short of saying he has told Mr. Kerkorian that Mr. Pellicano was using wiretaps, but says he is providing Mr. Kerkorian with details of Ms. Kerkorian’s private conversations.
Mr. Kerkorian has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and it is unlikely that someone could be held criminally liable for the actions of an investigator hired by his lawyer without showing that the client knew of the investigator’s illegal acts.
Yet the recordings show how Mr. Pellicano’s information could affect a high-stakes lawsuit, and make clear that Mr. Kerkorian, according to Mr. Christensen’s assurances, was grateful for intimate information that helped his case.
“Tell me that the old man has a smile on his face,” Mr. Pellicano said on May 14, 2002.
“He does, O.K.? He’s happy,” Mr. Christensen said. “Our jaw is still hanging down.”
The secret recordings also show how Mr. Kerkorian and his lawyer pushed the private detective to investigate another multimillionaire, the movie producer Stephen L. Bing, whom Mr. Kerkorian suspected of being the biological father of his ex-wife’s daughter.
Christen's attorney, Terree A. Bowers, called the NYT reportage "irresponsible, unwarranted and a pack of lies." He added: "In fact, there are absolutely no tapes or reliable evidence of any wiretaps involving the Kerkorian-Bonder litigation. The charges are and remain totally unfounded." The NYT says the disclosures are contained in the hundreds of hours of tapes turned over to defense lawyers. Listen to some of the tapes at the NYT website.