Hollywood 'Fixer' Now Has Some Celebrities Fearing the Worst

ByABC News
February 15, 2006, 10:32 PM

Feb. 16, 2006 — -- In a town that's no stranger to scandal, this might be one of the biggest -- a massive wiretapping scheme that might reveal Hollywood's darkest secrets and implicate some of the leading lawyers in show business and their celebrity clients.

It all centers on the actions of one man -- private eye to the stars Anthony Pellicano.

The 61-year-old came out of Chicago with a reputation for tough tactics and a knack for getting the dirt on just about everybody. Pellicano was the quintessential Hollywood gumshoe, boasting a client list that read like a who's who: John Travolta, Farrah Fawcett, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise and Arnold Schwarzenegger among them.

"Pellicano is the last-resort guy, and no matter what you have to do to put a fire out for a celebrity, that's what you gotta do," said Paul Barresi, a former porn star and freelance private investigator who worked for Pellicano.

But other private investigators said that Pellicano employed some questionable tactics in getting information.

Private eye Richard DiSabatino, who has known Pellicano for more than a decade, put it this way: "He broke the law to satisfy his clients. And normal PIs don't do that."

But Pellicano's wise-guy persona was tailor-made for Hollywood. His mystique actually became the stuff of movies. Travolta reportedly modeled the lead character in "Get Shorty" -- mob-guy-turned-movie-man Chili Palmer -- after him.

"He was very friendly with him. With ... Travolta," said DiSabatino. "You know the fact where, uh, Chili Palmer would always say, 'Look into my eyes'? Well, that was Pellicano's favorite saying."

He called himself the "sin-eater" -- the ultimate Hollywood fixer. But his own "sins" have landed him in trouble with the law. He already served 2½ years in prison on weapons charges, and he's now facing a 110-count federal indictment for racketeering and conspiracy.

"What he did was basically set up wiretaps and listened in on people's communications that they believed were private without them knowing," said George Cardona, the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case.