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Feature Articles


December 2003

The 'On The Waterfront' Trials

Part Five: Hollywood Investigations Continue

By James Ridgway de Szigethy


     The investigation of associates of action star Steven Seagal has now morphed into a new Federal investigation in Los Angeles of a private investigator linked to Seagal. The Los Angeles Times reports that the FBI has for some months been investigating evidence that 'Private Investigator to the Stars' Anthony Pellicano may have violated wiretapping laws by secretly tape recording telephone conversations between clients, as well as members of the law enforcement community in California.

     L. A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley has blasted federal officials for not disclosing to his office information regarding the Federal probe. Cooley won the job of D. A. in a bitter year 2000 race against incumbent Gil Garcetti, best known for failing to win a double-homicide conviction against movie star O. J. Simpson. Cooley campaigned on a platform of restoring competency in the D. A.'s office, but his reputation was tarnished after losing a prominent case against a local businessman accused of slipping 'date-rape' drugs to 9 women he met in Hollywood nightclubs. Pellicano worked for the businessman's defense team and the Times reports that illegal wiretaps involving the date-rape case are part of the on-going Federal investigation of Pellicano. Also, Court TV anchor Diane Dimond has told the New York Post that federal authorities disclosed to her recently that they had found evidence that Pellicano tapped her phone a decade ago when Dimond was a reporter for the television program HARD COPY. The alleged wiretaps regarded Dimond's pursuit of allegations that pop star Michael Jackson had molested a young boy. At the time Pellicano worked for Jackson's defense team. Jackson was never charged in that case.

     Numerous published reports have recently claimed that Pellicano is negotiating a book deal that would detail his upbringing in Chicago by Sicilian immigrants and his private eye career in Hollywood, including work he purportedly performed for Michael Jackson, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elizabeth Taylor, and O. J. Simpson.

     The investigation into Pellicano began with the Federal tracking of Mafia involvement in the Waterfront operations on the East Coast. In 2001, the Feds in New York accused Hollywood Film Producer Julius Nasso and his Associates of a scheme to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from action star Steven Seagal. Seagal testified before the Grand Jury in regards to the alleged extortion just a couple of months after Nasso, a former Producer of his movies, filed a $60 million lawsuit against Seagal, alleging Seagal backed out of a deal to produce 4 more motion pictures with him. Nasso's business partnership purportedly began to sour after Seagal began to re-examine his movie career goals after announcing his belief that he is the reincarnation of an ancient Buddhist deity.

     Seagal has previously claimed to be the target of a conspiracy by the Drug Enforcement Administration to set him up on fabricated charges. Seagal has also claimed to have worked for the CIA, a claim categorically rejected by CIA sources. Investigative reporter John Connolly has published claims of two men who allege that Seagal tried to hire them to murder one of Seagal's perceived enemies.

     Despite this apparent baggage, Steven Seagal was deemed a credible Prosecution Witness by the jury in the first 'Waterfront' trial which resulted in the conviction of Peter Gotti, his brother Richard V. and nephew Richard G. Gotti, among others. The three relatives of former Godfather John Gotti were convicted on racketeering and money laundering charges regarding their control of Local 1814 of the Longshoreman's Union, the model for the movie 'On the Waterfront.' The second 'Waterfront' trial this year resulted in the conviction of Genovese Godfather Vinnie "Chin" Gigante on charges he 'acted crazy' for years as a means of avoiding Prosecution for his control of the Unions that operate the Waterfront on the East Coast.

     The third 'On the Waterfront' trial was averted when film Producer Julius Nasso pleaded guilty for his role in attempting to extort money from Seagal with the help of Waterfront Associates of the Gambino Family. Nasso, who helped bring to the screen the Seagal flicks 'Marked for Death,' 'Out for Justice,' 'Under Siege 2,' and 'Fire Down Below,' serving a prison sentence under a plea bargain offered by the U. S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn.

     Seagal himself filed a lawsuit earlier this year alleging he was the intended victim of a plot by members of the German Mafia to extort money from him, a suit that was uncovered by the acclaimed website THE SMOKING GUN. Seagal had previously filed a lawsuit against former NYPD Detective John Connolly in regards to sensational claims Connolly published a decade ago regarding Seagal and American Mafia figures. That lawsuit was later dropped. Connolly has also alleged that Seagal plotted to have compromising photographs taken of a reporter for GQ Magazine who wrote a story on Seagal the action star was not happy with.

     In addition to Connolly and the GQ writer, two other reporters who have written unfavorably about Seagal have come under siege; last year Anita Busch of the Los Angeles Times and Ned Zeman of Vanity Fair Magazine lodged complaints with law enforcement officials that they were being threatened as they pursued their investigations of Seagal and his association with members of the American Mafia. Zeman published a scathing indictment of Seagal in Vanity Fair with the help of Seagal's 'nemesis' Connolly. The Vanity Fair article alleged that Seagal sought to replace Julius Nasso as the Producer of his movies with Danny Provenzano, a great-nephew of the late Teamsters Union Boss "Tony Pro" Provenzano, who has been identified by the FBI as responsible for the abduction and murder of former Teamsters Union President Jimmy Hoffa. The article also claimed an association between Seagal and "Sonny" Franzese, a high-ranking figure in the Colombo Mafia Family.

     After the Vanity Fair article was published, Danny Provenzano went on national television to make the contradictory statements that there was no such thing as the American Mafia while at the same time promoting the new Hollywood motion picture he wrote, directed, and starred in, 'This Thing of Ours,' a film about the new generation of American Mafia Associates. Danny Provenzano has since pleaded guilty to Federal racketeering charges as an Associate of the Genovese Mafia Family. The charges included attempted extortion of a business partner - the exact charges Julius Nasso pleaded guilty to.

     Threats against reporter Anita Busch resulted in charges against Alexander Proctor, an employee of Anthony Pellicano who allegedly had been hired by Seagal. Proctor allegedly smashed the windshield of the reporter's car and placed a dead fish and a rose upon it with a note stating: "STOP!" The Judge in this case, citing Proctor's previous convictions on drug and burglary charges, denied Bail to Proctor. Seagal's attorney Martin Pollner has publicly denied Seagal was involved in a scheme with Pellicano or Proctor to intimidate reporters Busch and Zeman, telling the Media that the allegations against Seagal are part of "an ongoing conspiracy to intimidate and discredit Mr. Seagal and reads like a bad screenplay!"

     While investigating Proctor and Pellicano, authorities found during a search of Pellicano's Sunset Boulevard office a cache of illegal weapons. Authorities also found computer equipment that led to the current investigation regarding illegal wiretaps. In October, Pellicano pleaded guilty to illegal possession of C-4 plastic explosive and two hand grenades. Pellicano is currently serving a Federal sentence of over two years for these weapons charges.

To be continued

Related Stories:

THE ‘ON THE WATERFRONT’ TRIALS

Part One: The First Trial Begins in Brooklyn Federal Court

http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_244.html


THE ‘ON THE WATERFRONT TRIALS

Part Two: Three Members of the Gotti Family are Convicted

http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_247.html


THE ‘ON THE WATERFRONT’ TRIALS

Part Three: ‘Oddfather’ Vincent "Chin" Gigante Admits to ‘Crazy Act’

http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_248.html


THE 'ON THE WATERFRONT TRIALS

Part Four: Steven Seagal Vindicated/Gravano Murder Plot Revealed

http://www.americanmafia.com/Feature_Articles_254.html

J. R. de Szigethy
New York

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James Ridgway de Szigethy can be reached at jamesmanhattan@hotmail.com.


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