DiSabatino said that some of the ugly headlines that surfaced around that time weren't an accident.
"What became very obvious was that he had a contact in one of the tabloids," he said.
Actually, Pellicano had several tabloid reporters on the payroll.
Paul Barresi, the first man ever to appear on the cover of Hustler magazine, worked as an investigator for Eddie Murphy's lawyer when the star was arrested for picking up a transsexual prostitute. (No charges were ever brought against Murphy.) Barresi also regularly freelanced for Pellicano.
"Whenever there was a damaging story involving a celebrity client that involved sex, then I was involved," Barresi said.
Barresi said that Pellicano hired him to "get dirt on" Sylvester Stallone. In addition, the the actor's phone was allegedly bugged by Pellicano when Stallone was in the midst of a bitter lawsuit over stock losses at Planet Hollywood.
"He may very well have wanted the dirt to use against Stallone. Maybe Stallone crossed him. I don't know. But I never asked questions," Barresi said.
And Pellicano wasn't just getting the dirt and dishing it. There were also times when he allegedly got physical. When hired by billionaire financier Leonard Green to help with his divorce from his wife of five years, Jude Green, she said he delivered his "beware" message in person.
"I pulled up at the dog groomer and this man blocked my car, I couldn't get out," said Green. "And then he came up to the window and thrust his face. I came out, and I asked him to move his car and he sort of like shoved me. No matter where I went that day, he was in my face blocking my car and constantly."
The experience was more than a little unnerving. "I just remember my heart beating out of my chest and really being terrified," she said.
Later, the FBI told Green that Pellicano had been monitoring her home telephone calls. And Green said there was more -- telephone threats, damage to her property's gate and more than once, she said, her car's brakes were tampered with.
"Pellicano had a reputation in Hollywood as a bully for hire," DiSabatino. "So people would hire him and they would like when he'd talk to people and threaten them."
Eventually, Pellicano got so big that even the future governor put him to work. The Schwarzenegger campaign, reeling from allegations of sexual harassment, asked Pellicano to investigate the actor's entire past to find every kind of claim an opponent might throw at him.
Barresi got the call. "Pellicano said to me, 'I want you to find out everything you can about Schwarzenegger. Get all the dirt you can,'" he said.
Pellicano bragged about the Schwarzenegger job, said DiSabatino.
"And I asked him, 'What was the outcome?' And he laughed. He said, 'The outcome is he shouldn't run for anything,'" said DiSabatino.
Pellicano, of course, got it wrong about the future governor. But perhaps a bigger mistake was that he began to believe his own hype.
In 2002, Pellicano allegedly threatened a Los Angeles Times reporter. The FBI raided Pellicano's office and found explosives, a detonator and hand grenades.
In 2004, Pellicano was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for illegal possession of dangerous weapons. He was set to be released earlier this month -- until the wiretapping charges were handed down Feb. 6, after a three-year federal investigation.
Pellicano has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but he remains in custody.
Meanwhile, some big names in Hollywood are holding their breath. It seems the style that made this Tinseltown gumshoe so sought after just may be his undoing.
"He felt that he was untouchable," said Barresi. "And he also probably felt protected."