After listening to an audio tape in which yet another client of Mr. Pellicano (Taylor Thompson) gave him free rein as well as ample funds to destroy someone's life, it was time for the government go to the usual game plan and put on yet another Pellicano client who listened to wiretaps and was still roaming free in the city. Today's allegedly reluctant listener was Sarit Shafrir, yet another wealthy woman who became involved in a bitter divorce and who somehow found herself listening to wiretaps of her ex-husband, Ami Shafrir. And, in testimony that sounded all too familiar, Ms. Shafrir testified to not instructing Mr. Pellicano to wiretap and to being "shocked" when she was played an actual wiretap. Well, she actually did a bit of a variation on the whole "shocked" testimony, telling the jury that she was "freaked out" when she heard the wiretaps.
This time around, Ms. Shafrir went a bit further than some of Mr. Pellicano's other clients in shifting the blame for hiring Mr. Pellicano. Instead of using the "my lawyer made me do it" defense employed by some other Pellicano clients, Ms. Shafrir testified that it was defendant Abner Nicherie, her ex-lover, who was allegedly responsible for hiring, paying and wiretapping her ex-husband. Speaking in a robotic voice, Ms. Shafrir told Prosecutor Dan Saunders that the Nicherie brothers took over her life and that Abner Nicherie frequently called her and played her wiretapped recordings of her ex-husband speaking on the phone with his then girlfriend and his mother. Ms. Shafrir also identified a series of checks totaling $154,000.00 made out to Mr. Pellicano and signed by Abner's brother, Daniel Nicherie.
On cross-examination by Mr. Nicherie's lawyer, Lawrence Semenza, Ms. Shafrir explained that she owned and operated a number of businesses, including a phone sex business. Over repeated objections from the prosecution, Mr. Semenza tried to establish that it was Ms. Shafrir and not Abner Nicherie, who was really Mr. Pellicano's client. Even as Ms. Shafrir continued to testify that it was Abner Nicherie who without her real consent hired Mr. Pellicano and got him to wiretap and harass her ex-husband, Mr. Semenza managed to get her to admit that while she was busy being forced to harass her ex-husband, she was also busy being forced to contact the F.B.I. with damaging information about his business and "allegedly being forced" to make all sorts of allegations against him in connection with custody issues and their divorce. In one of the only amusing anecdotes of her testimony, she said that she'd driven Mr. Nicherie to Mr. Pellicano's office at least twenty times because Mr. Nicherie didn't want to pay to park in Mr. Pellicano's building. So, apparently Abner Nicherie didn't mind paying thousands of dollar to Mr. Pellicano to investigate Mr. Shafrir, but he did mind paying for parking. Got it.
Ms. Shafrir testified during cross-examination by Mr. Pellicano to being played a number of recordings by Abner Nicherie and telling him "not to play them" again. Mr. Pellicano then surprisingly asked a decent question--something he undoubtedly picked up from the Chad Hummel school of cross-examination. "Did you contact law enforcement after hearing the recording?" Mr. Pellicano inquired. "No," Ms. Shafrir replied. "Why not?" Mr. Pellicano asked. "It messed up my psyche pretty bad," replied Ms. Shafrir. "I didn't no how to digest it." And, she offered up a few more reasons for keeping this whole little wiretapping matter to herself. "I didn't know whom to trust, who to tell," and there was also that Mr. Nicherie "kept leaving the wiretapped recordings on my message machine." When Mr. Pellicano inquired as to whether she'd considering playing those phone message recordings for the authorities, Ms. Shafrir responded "no."
The government expects to rest its case towards the end of next week. They're planning to call Michael Ovitz on Tuesday or at the latest, Wednesday. Tom Gores is also expected to testify on Tuesday as well as former LAPD policeman Craig Stevens and a few more of Mr. Pellicano's former employees. Anita Busch and Bernie Weinraub are expected to be among the government's last witnesses.
Although Mr. Pellicano has not formerly announced his intention to testify in his own defense, it's a safe bet that he'll take the stand given his behavior so far. He's spent a good portion of the trial trying to testify during his cross, so I'm guessing that he'll make it official by actually taking the stand before this trial is over. Plus, earlier this week, the Judge said when the jury was out of the room, that if Mr. Pellicano intended to testify, she needed to know how he planned to do it. She joked that she didn't want him running back and forth asking himself questions and then answering those same questions. She then suggested that Mr. Pellicano might want to prepare his questions in advance and have someone else on the defense ask them to him. Mr. Pellicano nodded, indicating that he was considering that mode of testifying in his own defense.
Read all of the coverage from inside the Pellicano courtroom