The jury in the federal trial of Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano and 4 co-defendants still hasn’t reached a decision after its first full week of deliberating. In the meantime, I thought you’d want to see this letter about Bert Fields (left, arriving at Roybal building read to testify; photo by Jim Stevenson for DHD) sent by his longtime pal and Greenberg Glusker law partner Bonnie Eskenazi to Arianna Huffington complaining about HuffPo’s trial coverage and commentary by Allison Hope Weiner. Eskenazi used to be Fields’ right-hand woman on most of his big cases. And Eskenazi also worked with Weiner (who’s a lawyer) eons ago at the old Wyman Bautzer firm. I doubt there’ll be a reunion party anytime soon. That said, I’m well aware that many of you will strenuously disagree with this letter, and many of you will vigorously defend it. Remember, I’m just the messenger:
May 9, 2008
Ms. Arianna Huffington
The Huffington Post
Re:Allison Hope Weiner’s May 1, 2008 Article
Dear Ms. Huffington:
I have read Allison Hope Weiner’s May 1, 2008 rant on the Huffington Post (“Pellicano Trial: The Jury Has The Case”) about how the “rich and powerful” people escaped the Pellicano case “without a scratch,” while the poor folks were prosecuted.
With no supporting facts at all, Ms. Weiner suggests in her agitated blog that the rich and powerful were guilty and should have been indicted, but escaped prosecution because of their wealth and power.
Apparently, Ms. Weiner didn’t notice that, these days, the federal government is regularly prosecuting rich and powerful people (including lawyers), convicting them and sending them to jail just to “set an example.” In the Pellicano case, itself, they’ve prosecuted a major film director, a music executive and a very prominent lawyer, all of whom would seem to fit in the “rich and powerful” category. Ms. Weiner’s frenzied assertion that people were not prosecuted in the Pellicano case because they were rich and powerful is demonstrable nonsense.
Her bizarre tirade suggests that my partner, Bert Fields, is one of those people who escaped prosecution “without a scratch,” because of his supposed wealth and power. She makes these wild and vitriolic assertions without the support of a single fact, except that Bert, like many others including the government itself, used Anthony Pellicano as an investigator.
This is not the first time Ms. Weiner has engaged in this kind of malevolent attack. She’s been at it for months, with no factual support, just repeating her venomous accusations.
Anthony Pellicano, himself, has repeatedly stated that he deliberately kept Bert in the dark about his methodologies. Mr. Pellicano even referred to Bert as “Mr. Clean Jeans,” whom he said would never approve of any questionable activity. He was right.
What Mr. Pellicano reported to Bert were findings about the cases on which he worked, not overheard conversations. Nothing Mr. Pellicano communicated to Bert in any way raised the specter of wiretapping. Notwithstanding Ms. Weiner’s spiteful and overheated prose, the suggestion that Bert “must have been” aware of illegal activity by Mr. Pellicano is simply preposterous.
The government investigated this matter for more than five years. Bert cooperated fully with that investigation. He spoke voluntarily to the FBI without counsel. Our firm turned over to the government hundreds of thousands of documents, including Bert’s own files. Bert even agreed to extend the statute of limitations, so that the government could complete its investigation. In connection with the recent trial, he announced that he was prepared to testify fully if called by either side. He spent two days in the courthouse waiting to be called. Apparently, to Ms. Weiner’s great disappointment, Bert wasn’t called by either side.
I’ve worked closely with Bert for many years, having first met Bert when I was opposing counsel in a very heated battle between two entertainment titans. So I can say from both sides of counsel table that Bert is the most honorable and upstanding lawyer I have ever known.
After more than five years of rigorous investigation, the government came up with no evidence that could support a charge that Bert Fields engaged in or knew of any criminal conduct. That is why he was not prosecuted. That is the only reason. It was not, as Ms. Weiner claims, because of wealth and power. Ms. Weiner’s continued hysterical diatribe against Bert is not journalism. It’s the bitter product of irrational malice.
Bonnie E. Eskenazi
Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.