The Los Angeles legal newspaper Daily Journal‘s John Hanusz breaks another Pellicano story today. (The New York Times has gone silent, though the dormant Los Angeles Times today has a nobody-gives-a-hoot article about Pellicano and some French conman.) Hanusz reports that “federal investigators have not cracked all the sophisticated codes indicted private detective Anthony Pellicano used on his seized computers, and they apparently will not decode all of Pellicano’s digital files because of their sheer volume, according to sources close to the case.” Hanusz comments that this decision “raises the question of whether the true extent of the scandal’s reach will ever be uncovered.” But he also warns that “prominent entertainment and legal figures may just have to wait a bit longer before they can breathe a little easier.”
In searches of Pellicano’s offices and a storage facility, the feds seized computers and storage devices able to hold the equivalent of 2 billion pages of double-spaced text, giving prosecutors a mountain of potential evidence to sift through. Legal experts told Hanusz they were not surprised by the decision not to decode all of the digital recordings. James W. Spertus, a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles and a founding member of the Los Angeles U.S. attorney’s computer crimes division, said “he expected prosecutors to profile the recordings based on readily ascertainable characteristics, such as size and the date the file was created, rather than try to decode them in their entirety … ‘It takes a lot of time and man-hours to decrypt a file,’ Spertus said, so investigators will make decisions about what files are likely to yield fruitful evidence based on information received from witness interviews and other sources … Despite prosecutors’ decision not to decode all of the evidence, experts cautioned against assuming the investigation has ended. Prosecutors have said more than once they expect the grand jury to issue additional indictments.”
Hanusz writes that “prosecutors in Pellicano’s wiretapping case are expected to complete turning over discovery materials to lawyers defending the celebrity private eye and his associates later this week. The government already has given defense lawyers more than 10,000 pages, along with a number of decoded audio files containing conversations between Pellicano and some co-defendants. … Sources say the government has yet to disclose actual recordings of wiretapped conversations.”
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