04/19/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Pellicano Trial: Taxpayer Money Working for Pellicano and Looking Forward to Bert Fields

The news for next week. As usual, there is no court on Monday, but on Tuesday, things should heat up when Bert Fields takes the stand. The word is that Mr. Fields has been subpoenaed and his attorney, Brian Sun, says that if Mr. Fields is called to testify, he will appear. And given everything that happened today in court, it seems more than likely that Mr. Fields will be called by Mark Arneson's attorney, Chad Hummel.

The rest of Mark Arneson's direct testimony went pretty well. He was composed and collected as he testified about how Anthony Pellicano had provided him with useful information regarding his investigation of a bookmaking ring at both Mateo's restaurant as well as another restaurant. Mr. Arneson also emphasized that Pellicano gave him useful information about some organized crime figures that not only helped Mr. Arneson's investigation, but that also was helpful to safety. And, based on his direct testimony, he seemed to honestly have been out of the loop when it came to knowing Anthony's clients and how Anthony was using the information that he received from the former sergeant.

Things were actually looking pretty good for Mr. Arneson until Mr. Saunders got up to begin his cross-examination. It was clear that Mr. Saunders was chomping at the bit to get at Mr. Arneson--he spent most of Mr. Arneson's direct testimony, perched on the edge of his chair, excitedly scribbling down notes after just about everything the Sgt. said. Before Mr. Arneson had a chance to take a sip of water, Mr. Saunders started ripping into him about his allegedly illegal runs for Mr. Pellicano, his violation of LAPD policy, his alleged admissions during his proffer session with the government and his willingness to throw in with the likes of Anthony Pellicano. Basically, it was kind of a blood bath at times. As Mr. Arneson tried not to look pained, Mr. Saunders listed off name and after name that Mr. Arneson had looked up for Mr. Pellicano--repeatedly asking the former sergeant if he remembered checking the DMV and criminal history for a particular person. While Mr. Arneson testified that clearly someone using his name and his password had done the runs that Mr. Saunders was referring to, he refused to say that he'd actually done the look-ups. Things got even worse when, for some reason, Mr. Arneson abandoned his earlier contrite testimony where he admitted to doing the runs for Mr. Pellicano and instead went with his "I don't recall" mantra as Mr. Saunders went to town. At one point, the Prosecutor even held up a stack of documents, identifying one large stack as the runs done by Mr. Arneson for Mr. Pellicano before his arrest and a significantly smaller stack of runs done by Mr. Arneson following Mr. Pellicano's arrest. It was a dramatic Perry Mason moment. "Isn't it the truth that you can't remember which runs you did for the primary reason that you did quite a lot of them?" Mr. Saunders asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm. Then, things got worse for Mr. Arneson. Mr. Saunders asked the former policeman whether he knew what Mr. Pellicano was doing with the information that Mr. Arneson gave him. "No," Mr. Arneson answered simply. Anticipating that answer, Mr. Saunders went to the audio tape, replaying a conversation where Mr. Pellicano asks for information and it's clear from Mr. Arneson's response that he understands the client to whom Mr. Pellicano is referring.

As for Mr. Arneson's claim that Mr. Pellicano was a major source for him who gave him information on prostitution and book making and other criminal activity, Mr. Saunders pretty much shredded that testimoony. He introduced a letter from Mr. Arneson to a supervisor at the LAPD, in which Mr. Arneson that at no time, had Mr. Pellicano provided Mr. Arneson with any insight into any case involving criminal activity. When asked by Mr. Saunders about the letter, Mr. Arneson admitted the letter was false--an admission that did nothing to enhance his credibility.

Mr. Arneson did manage to score a few points on cross-examination between punches by Saunders. He made a compelling argument that someone might have performed some of the look-ups for Mr. Pellicano using his name and password, point out that someone ran checks in the computer on him, his wife, ex-wife and his child and that some of the runs made in his name were made when he was either out of work or out of the country. But Mr. Saunders came right back at him, noting that even though there were a few suspicious runs made of him, there were also thousands of runs made when Mr. Arneson was in the office, sitting at the computer doing work for Mr. Pellicano, rather than for the people of Los Angeles.

"You were paid to investigate crimes and your salary was paid by the people of Los Angeles," pointed out Mr. Saunders. But instead, Saunders added, you were busy spending hours looking up people for Mr. Pellicano. "It was only a few hours, but I also spent the same amount of time when I did other runs. And I do recall the runs I did for Mr. Ornellas," Mr. Arneson snapped back. Mr. Saunders wasn't having any of it, snidely suggesting that it seemed strange that despite allegedly running thousands of runs for Mr. Pellicano, the one that Mr. Arneson remembered doing was the one for Mr. Ornellas. Mr. Arneson agreed that was true and elaborated that Mr. Ornellas had also wanted to sign on to Megan's law and somehow get his neighbor for child abuse. When Mr. Saunders pointed out the obvious--that Mr. Ornellas had access to the same data bases as Mr. Arneson--the detective replied, "He didn't want anyone from the F.B.I. to know he was there."


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