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Pellicano Trial: Michael Ovitz Fingered Over Threats To Anita Busch

04/26/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

After years of speculation, the government offered its answers to a few questions about who they think was behind the threat against Anita Busch--the dead fish and "stop" note that have been the most well known evidence in the case against Mr. Pellicano. In two words--Agent Ornellas identified Michael Ovitz. During Mr. Lally's questioning, Agent Ornellas explained why he initially believed that actor Steven Segal was behind the threat against Anita Busch. Agent Ornellas explained that initially, Alex Proctor stated in recorded conversations that Mr. Pellicano had been hired by Steven Segal to carry out a threat against Anita Busch. (The recorded conversation was between Dan Patterson and Anita Busch.) Mr. Ornellas explained that these conversastions-- about how Mr. Proctor has been hired by Mr. Pellicano to carry out the threat against Ms. Busch-- formed the basis of the warrant to search Mr. Pellicano's offices. Mr. Ornellas noted, under questioning by Mr. Lally, that he later learned after an audit was done of Mr. Arneson's searches of the LAPD databases, that Mr. Segal was not the client who hired Mr. Pellicano to carry out a threat against Anita Busch. "I received an audit of Mr. Arneson's run in May of 2002," said Agent Ornellas. The agent went on to tell the jury that the audit of Mr. Arneson's computer searches contained runs on Bernard Weinraub, Anita Busch, Joyce and Andrew Miller as well as Arthur Bernier and James Casey.

"Mr. Weinraub and Ms. Busch had done a series of articles on Mr. Ovitz that same month," Mr. Ornellas said. Additionally, according to the agent, he found out that Mr. Arneson had also requested photos of Ms. Busch, Mr. Weinraub and the Millers. "Did you interview Mr. Ovitz?" asked Mr. Lally. "Yes, later that year," replied Mr. Ornellas. "He said that he'd hired Mr. Pellicano in April 2002 to gather information on individuals he thought were attacking him in the press....Mr. Ovitz mentioned Ms. Busch's name. He also mentioned Mr. Weinraub and Mr. Geffen."

Mr. Lally continued to question the agent about his suspicions that Mr. Ovitz was behind the threat against Ms. Busch. "Did Mr. Ovitz pay Mr. Pellicano money?" asked Mr. Lally, clearly certain of Mr. Ornellas' answer. "Yes. He paid via check through a law firm and also via cash," replied Agent Ornellas. And just to be clear on the schedule of the payments, Mr. Ornellas added, "The checks were written within a week of accessing Ms. Busch's name and DMV photos by Mr. Arneson."

Mr. Lally then probed into the rest of Mr. Ornellas' investigation of the threat against Ms. Busch. "Did you execute a search warrant on Mr. Pellicano's offsite storage locker?" asked the prosecutor. Mr. Ornellas answered that he had and that he recovered surveillance records from the search written by Pellicano's ex-employee, Denise Ward. "I recovered billing invoices from Ms. Ward who did surveillance on Ms. Busch's residence as well as Mr. Casey and Mr. Bernier," said the detective. Mr. Ornellas added that the surveillance was done before the threat was carried out against Ms. Busch.

Mr. Ornellas further testified that after the November, 2002 search of Mr. Pellicano's office, he learned that Mr. Pellicano had contacted Mr. Ovitz and demanded additional sums of money. "He wanted $20,000 a month," Mr. Ornellas recalled. Mr. Lally had one last question of Mr. Ornellas regarding recording conversations that took place after Mr. Pellicano's imprisonment between Mr. Pellicano and Ron Meyer, the head of Universal Studios. Mr. Lally asked Mr. Ornellas if during the course of listening to those recorded conversations, the two men discussed who was at the heart of Mr. Pellicano's current legal problems. "Yes," said Mr. Ornellas. "And who was that individual?" asked Mr. Lally. "That individual was Mr. Ovitz," replied Mr. Ornellas.

When Mr. Hummel again got up to question Mr. Ornellas on quadruple re-cross, he asked, "Is it possible that Mr. Ovitz had nothing to do with the threat against Ms. Busch?" "Yeah, it's possible," Mr. Ornellas answered skeptically, managing to sublimate an eye roll. And when Mr. Lally got up to do his quadruple re-direct, Mr. Lally asked the question that many of us have been wondering about since the start of this investigation, directly asking if Mr. Ornellas thought Mr. Ovitz was responsible for the threat against Ms. Busch. "It was Mr. Ovitz," answered Mr. Ornellas without hesitation. (Mr. Ovitz has denied under oath on the stand that he was aware of any illegal activities by Mr. Pellicano.)

Read all the coverage from inside the Pellicano courtroom