The cities of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills could face large civil payouts in the fallout from the wiretapping prosecution of disgraced private investigator Anthony Pellicano, reports the Los Angeles Times. Some experts compare it to the Rampart police scandal, which led to $70 million in settlements. Former Beverly Hills police officer Craig Stevens has pleaded guilty to illegally accessing law enforcement databases, and former Los Angeles Police Department officer Mark Arneson has been charged with searching confidential databases for information on dozens of people and conspiring with Pellicano to wiretap people. Although the case has targeted only two officers – compared with the dozens in the Rampart scandal – the roster of more than 80 victims includes actors, journalists, entertainment industry executives, a real estate mogul, and the former wife of a billionaire corporate buyout specialist.
The Pellicano investigation involves invasion-of-privacy allegations, but attorneys said the legal exposure also could be vast. “The damages could be in the millions of dollars and not only against the city for the police misconduct, but against any law firms and clients of Pellicano,” said attorney Neville Johnson of Johnson & Rishwain. “It is as if ‘L.A. Confidential’ has come to life in the new millennium.”