Die Hard director John McTiernan began serving a 12-month sentence this week for perjury and lying to the FBI in connection to the Anthony Pellicano Hollywood wiretapping scandal.
The director’s wife, Gail Sistrunk McTiernan, penned the following response to her husband’s incarceration:
“My husband was forced to give up his seven year fight to keep his freedom today.
Throughout the whole seven year nightmare John kept his faith–I think really his father’s faith–in the system. He believed that if he, with all of his advantages, couldn’t fight the government … then who possibly could … and what kind of country was that? He thought of it as almost a duty to his children. He kept plugging forward, naively shelling out a fortune for lawyers, confident that eventually their prosecutorial overreach would be heard before an unbiased judge and set things right.
The Federal government has now imprisoned a man, with no prior criminal record, for saying a single false word on the phone (the answer of “yep”) to a stranger’s voice he could not have possibly known or verified was law enforcement. Given the years of calls from fans or journalists, sometimes parading as a form of law enforcement, the responses to the caller that evening at dinner were a courteous gesture. The phone call dealt exclusively with John’s knowledge of his former divorce attorney Dennis Wasser’s involvement with Anthony Pellicano. He explained that nothing illegal was proposed by Wasser.
Not giving the call another thought, John was shocked when two weeks later that phone call resulted in the threat of a federal felony charge. Everyone presumes the FBI comes to your door, black suits, badges showing. The FBI manual certainly states the credentials must be shown so the person knows to whom they are speaking. How does that happen with a phone call? During the subsequent proffer day, the government was clearly agitated with John’s lack of knowledge concerning Wasser’s activity. AUSA Dan Saunders then prosecuted John under a Section 1001 False Statement felony with a potential five year prison sentence for his telephone response “yep and I have to get back to my kids” to the Agent’s closing statement, “And that’s the only time you hired Pellicano, right?”
He pled guilty upon advice of counsel and later withdrew the guilty plea when he realized he had a defense to the false statement charge. The Court denied his request to withdraw his guilty plea yet he Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with McTiernan. After the win, the government quadrupled the charges and took away his chance for a fair trial. He filed a conditional guilty plea and then appealed again to the Ninth but a panel of a different political ilk sided with the Government. His request to be heard by the United States Supreme Court was denied.
He’s since filed a habeas motion as it has been discovered that the alleged wiretap of Charles Roven (a co-producer of Rollerball) never occurred, that Atlas (a Roven company) was a client of Pellicano, and that Pellicano former employees have never seen the alleged summaries of wiretapped calls. Simple phone messages were paraded as a synopses of calls. In addition, the hard drive given to defense attorneys that was to prove where evidence against John originated was in such a condition that the defense expert witness concluded “recovery … and verification of any content would be impossible.” The “summary of wiretapped calls” evidence against McTiernan has never to this day been delivered to our defense lawyers.
The pending habeas petition could have been decided before he ever set foot near a federal prison as his sentence is undoubtedly questioned by the newly discovered information. The government has stalled his case with years of delays in filings, and filed their reply to the habeas just two days ago–a month late. That month was crucial to him and would have given time for his lawyers to file a response. Last week we learned that the perjury indictment was created out of thin air. He was sentenced for a crime that isn’t a crime. There is no basis for a charge. More legal issues must be remedied. Now with John in custody, the delays as a tactical strategy are sure to continue.
This quest for justice is not yet over for me.
Celebrities and well known people are contacted through their attorneys or managers and with FBI credentials easily visible … traditionally interviewed in the presence of their attorneys. It raises the serious question why John, who had both an attorney and a manager in Los Angeles, was contacted at home over the phone, after hours. Unusual practices to say the least.
During pre-trial proceedings, the government proposed, and the judge decided that evidence that would prove the many improper procedures in this case should not be allowed to be heard by the jury. Even his expert witness would not be allowed to testify. In my husband’s case the charge against him effectively became: telling a lie. Period. Whether he knew who he was talking to or not was irrelevant and as I said, not to be mentioned in front of the jury. They went further actually, defining anything the Prosecutor didn’t agree with as “Attempts at Jury Nullification,” for which his attorney would be sanctioned if he tried.
You think you have all of these rights … they are fairy tales from the past. Trial by jury? They threatened my husband with over 15 years in prison if he asked for a trial. Right to an attorney? Nonsense, the lawyers are all terrified of the government. His first lawyer, the most unsavory of the bunch basically said: NEVER resist; that will only make it worse. Bow your head and make sure you act like you think they’re right.
These prosecutors aren’t public servants. John Dean knows the type and so clearly and elegantly stated recently about a national tragedy, “These are not people who are conscientiously and fairly upholding our federal laws. Rather, they are typically authoritarian personalities who get their jollies from shamelessly beating up on unfortunate people like Aaron Swartz.” They rewrite laws anyway they see fit, and right wing judges let them get away with it. My husband is lucky compared to Governor Don Siegelman or state Senator Charles Walker. Had he had proper counsel like Gerry Spence representing Geoffrey Feiger, I wouldn’t be making this statement today. Never would Spence have allowed these overzealous prosecutors to brand a man a felon because he was handed the phone, in the privacy of his home, after hours, and denied something to a man he did not know.
John’s legal counsel urged him not to speak to the media all of these years for fear of further prosecutorial retaliation, therefore the media was never apprised of the background and the true facts of the case.
Again, this is not over. How can it be? I still have faith, ultimately, in the laws of this land but if this is justice in the United States … God save us all.”