L.A. Lawyer Charged in Wiretap Case

Feds: Kirk Kerkorian consigliere bugged phone of MGM boss's ex-wife

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L.A. Lawyer Charged in Wiretap Case

FEBRUARY 15--A powerful Los Angeles lawyer was indicted today on federal charges that he conspired with disgraced Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano to wiretap the telephone of the ex-wife of billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian.

Attorney Terry Christensen, 65, was named today in a superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy and interception of wire communications, both felonies. The two counts, added to the original Pellicano indictment, were announced this afternoon by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles.

Pellicano, who is already facing 105 felony raps, was named along with Christensen. A copy of the new charges can be found here.

According to prosecutors, Christensen, pictured at left, paid Pellicano at least $100,000 to bug the phone of Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, who was briefly married to the entertainment mogul. The illegal wiretap, which was maintained over two months in early-2002, occurred while Kerkorian's ex was fighting in court for hefty child support payments.

During this period, Pellicano allegedly intercepted hundreds of the woman's calls--some with her lawyers and a court-appointed mediator--and relayed their substance to Christensen, who "would use the information gleaned from the illegal wiretap to secure a tactical advantage in litigation."

According to prosecutors, an unnamed lawyer called Pellicano in mid-March 2002 and told the sleuth to contact Christensen regarding "going after" an attorney for Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, since the woman's counsel had filed a bar association complaint against Christensen. Though not listed as the lawyer of record in the Kerkorian v. Kerkorian matter, Christensen is an extremely close confidante of the billionaire and once served as president of the Tracinda Corporation, the entertainment mogul's holding company.

It appears that, in addition to wiretapping Lisa Bonder Kerkorian's calls, Pellicano was also recording his conversations with Christensen. The indictment includes direct quotations from both men, including a Pellicano admonition to Christensen to be careful about his use of the fruits of the illegal wiretap: "There is no way, except with my unique techniques, that you would know this."

In an April 27, 2002 conversation, according to the federal charges, Christensen allegedly "asked defendant Pellicano what Lisa Bonder Kerkorian was discussing with her attorneys." In a May 10, 2002 conversation, Pellicano told Christensen of the "elation" Lisa Bonder Kerkorian felt after a telephone call with court mediator Debra Simon. Christensen, the indictment alleges, replied that he "would pass the information on to his client."

Two weeks earlier, on April 28, Pellicano told Christensen that he was "hearing both sides" of the case, noting that, "I'm hearing her talk to Kirk [Kerkorian] too," the indictment charges. In mid-May 2002, Christensen allegedly instructed Pellicano to "wrap up" the wiretap. The attorney, a partner in the 120-attorney firm Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shaprio, later told the private investigator that he had been "great." (5 pages)