Director gets 1 year in prison in wiretapping case
Monday, October 4, 2010; 2:43 PM
LOS ANGELES -- "Die Hard" director John McTiernan was sentenced to one year in prison Monday for lying about his association with a private investigator to illegally wiretap a movie producer.
In a stinging rebuke of the 59-year-old McTiernan, U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer said he should receive a harsher sentence than the year recommended by prosecutors because he didn't accept responsibility for his actions.
"The defendant doesn't think the law applies to him," Fischer said.
McTiernan, wearing a black suit with a blue shirt, had his hands in his pockets while the judge issued her sentence. He declined comment outside of court.
McTiernan pleaded guilty in July to two counts of making false statements to the FBI. He also pleaded guilty to one count of perjury for lying to a federal judge while trying to withdraw a guilty plea.
Fischer also ordered McTiernan to pay a $100,000 fine and serve three years probation. He will remain free on bond pending an appeal. His attorneys said the conditional plea agreement allows their client to challenge certain pretrial rulings made by Fischer.
McTiernan previously pleaded guilty to lying to an FBI agent in 2006 about the investigation of private investigator Anthony Pellicano. The director later withdrew that plea, arguing he didn't have adequate legal representation, and also was jet-lagged and under the influence of alcohol when he was contacted by the federal agent late at night.
"What we feel is that a grave injustice has been done to prosecute a man for simply speaking on the telephone to a government agent," said Oliver Diaz, one of McTiernan's attorneys and a former presiding justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court. "People don't realize that they can go to prison for doing a simple act like that."
Pellicano was convicted in 2008 of wiretapping film producer Charles Roven for McTiernan and of bugging the phones of celebrities and others to get information for clients. Roven worked with McTiernan on the 2002 box-office flop "Rollerball."
In April 2006, McTiernan told Fischer he hired Pellicano to wiretap Roven. Prosecutors filed transcripts of a recorded conversation between Pellicano and McTiernan in which there appeared to be other people whom the director may have ordered the private eye to monitor.
McTiernan's attorney, S. Todd Neal, who pleaded with Fischer not to give his client prison time, said the relationship between the director and Pellicano was short-lived, acknowledging it "was a bad idea" to investigate Roven.
Neal added that the charges filed four years ago against McTiernan, whose film credits include "Predator," "The Hunt for Red October" and "The Thomas Crown Affair," has damaged the director's reputation in Hollywood and whittled his bank account to $103,000.
Neal said his client would have a difficult time serving his prison sentence because he takes an antidepressant that isn't approved by the federal Bureau of Prisons. The drug also restricts what kind of food he could eat, Neal said.
Fischer had no sympathy for McTiernan, saying he has led a privileged life and sarcastically pointing out the worse thing that has happened in his life is getting a scholarship to Exeter prep school.
Fischer, who presided over the wiretapping case that ensnared more than a dozen people, continued her verbal assault on McTiernan, adding that a prison sentence will no longer give him the ability to eat "aged cheeses, cured meats or red wine."
As for the medicine he needs to take, Fischer replied, "He won't be the only depressed man in prison."