After Mr. Pellicano finished boring everyone into a stupor, we finally got a chance today to hear from former Sgt. Mark Arneson about exactly what he did for Mr. Pellicano. In an interesting revelation, Mr. Arneson told of having spoken on many occasions with Mr. Ornellas, the lead F.B.I. investigator on the Pellicano case. Mr. Arneson said that Mr. Ornellas spoke to him often and on one occasion, had him do some runs on the confidential LAPD computer data bases. "He [Mr. Ornellas] said that his neighbor was an asshole," Mr. Arneson testified. "He wanted me to run them and provided me with their names, license plates and other information." He even recalled a meeting with Mr. Ornellas, Agent Ballard and Prosecutor Saunders in which the F.B.I. suggested that he work with them temporarily on an organized crime investigation. Mr. Arneson's attorney, Chad Hummel, intends to call Mr. Ornellas as a witness. Should be interesting. The defense had tried unsuccessfully on several occasions to challenge the search warrant that Mr. Ornellas signed before raiding Mr. Pellicano's offices in November of 2002. So, it seems, that although the Judge prohibited the defense to litigate the validity of the search warrant, Mr. Ornellas' integrity and his relationship to Mr. Arneson is about to be put on a microscope for the jury.
Hear audio of a Pellicano-Marty Singer phone call
Hear audio of a Pellicano-Ken Starr phone call
Mr. Arneson, speaking clearly and articulately from the witness stand, instead of engaging in the usual mumbling we've all become accustomed to in this case, testified to having a complex relationship with Mr. Pellicano. He told of having both a friendship and a business relationship with the former private detective. In response to questions by his lawyer, Chad Hummel, Mr. Arneson initially told the jury that he knew that by looking up certain names in the LAPD data bases, he could be subject to departmental action and charges in state court. "Yes, I did cross the line," Mr. Arneson testified about providing Mr. Pellicano with a slew of DMV records and criminal histories. Mr. Arneson then qualified his response by noting that in his mind, he didn't think he was doing anything wrong.
With Mr. Saunders sitting on the edge of his seat, Mr. Arneson was one of the only witnesses in this trial to plainly tell the jury the details of his relationship with Mr. Pellicano. He explained that the former private investigator to the stars had provided him with all kinds of information and resources that were helpful to Mr. Arneson in performing his job as a LAPD Sgt. He told of going to Mr. Pellicano's office on several occasions, often with other officers, to have Mr. Pellicano analyze video and audio tapes as well as computers seized during LAPD investigations. Mr. Arneson said, "Mr. Pellicano served as a resource for years. I pretty much used him as much as I could, getting his services for free." In a rather depressing observation about the LAPD, Mr. Arneson admitted that even when he asked to have the department analyze a computer, they often couldn't compete with Mr. Pellicano's abilities. He noted that on at least one occasion, the department came up with absolutely no information from a computer seized at a crime scene whereas Mr. Pellicano was able to pull all types of data off the computer.
Mr. Arneson also told the courtroom about how he performed all types of security services for Mr. Pellicano's famous clients--as Mr. Pellicano lacked the resources to provide all of these clients with security or on occasion, constant surveillance. Mr. Arneson explained how he'd been paid a monthly retainer by Pellicano to be on call to perform all sorts of security services for many of Mr. Pellicano's famous clients--including Farrah Fawcett, Mary J. Blige and Whoopi Goldberg. Mr. Arneson explained that on one occasion when Whoopi Goldberg attended an awards ceremony, she wore $36 million worth of jewelry. While one detail of security watched her jewels, Mr. Arneson was on hand to provide Ms. Goldberg with personal security. Mr. Arneson also provided Goldie Hawn with security. And, in an interesting revelation, Mr. Arneson explained that he'd arranged to have Lisa Gores followed at Mr. Pellicano's request, providing Mr. Pellicano with a number of off-duty policemen to sit outside Ms. Gores' gated Mullholland estate. Oh, then there was his guarding of Rick Springfield. Although he testified that he was with Mr. Springfield to provide him with personal security, I'm guessing that his real reason for protecting Mr. Springfield was to prevent the singer from singing his one hit wonder "Jessie's Girl."
When he wasn't busting up gambling organizations or prostitution rings, Mr. Arneson also was checking out the security on some of the houses of Mr. Pellicano's most famous clients--including Nicholas Cage. And, when Mr. Pellicano's friend Bert Fields was having his Hollywood Hills home tented and fumigated, Mr. Arneson provided round the clock, six days a week security. Apparently, it was a very serious bug problem requiring that the house be tented and abandoned for six days....
In some very juicy testimony, Mr. Arneson testified about how Mr. Pellicano assisted him in investigating various prostitution rings on the westside of Los Angeles. And, along with that investigation, Mr. Arneson happened to run into one of the witnesses who testified against him and Mr. Pellicano at this trial--a Ms. Erin Finn. "Mr. Pellicano told me about Erin Finn, an active madam who was conducting prostitution off the internet," Mr. Arneson testified. (When Ms. Finn was on the stand, she admitted to being a prostitute at one time--so the news didn't come as a complete shock to the jury.) Mr. Arneson said that along with the information about Ms. Finn, Mr. Pellicano provided him with a plethora of information that was accurate and that Mr. Arneson used in his cases. The former Sgt. also told about how when he was investigating organized crime figures, Mr. Pellicano often tried to help "keep him safe," by giving him information about the various targets of Mr. Arneson's investigation.
As for what he did for Mr. Pellicano, Mr. Arneson testified that for the most part, he was just confirming what Mr. Pellicano already knew. Mr. Arneson told the jury that Mr. Pellicano knew license plate numbers, social security information and addresses and property information about his targets and Mr. Arneson's role in running the names of these targets often verified the information that Mr. Pellicano already had.
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