Former agent gets probation for Hollywood wiretaps

May 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A former FBI agent was sentenced Thursday to one year of probation for using the bureau's computers to dig up information on Hollywood executives involved in a prominent wiretapping case. The former agent, Mark Rossini, was not working on the wiretapping case against Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano and was not authorized to look up the files.

But he admitted he used FBI computers illegally to search for files on powerbrokers related to Pellicano such as former superagent Michael Ovitz, entertainment lawyer Bert Fields and William Morris talent agency President James Wiatt.

"I am so profoundly and deeply ashamed and remorseful," Rossini said in a brief statement to the court. He said he just wants to get on with his life and serve his country again.

Rossini admitted in court documents that he gave the files to a woman with whom he was in a close personal relationship -- she was not named, but he was dating movie actress Linda Fiorentino -- and she passed them on to an attorney for Pellicano

Pellicano is serving 15 years for bugging phones of such stars as Sylvester Stallone to get information for his clients.

Rossini pleaded guilty in December to five counts of criminal computer access and agreed to resign from the FBI after a 17-year career in which he rose through the ranks in the Washington and New York City offices. The 47-year-old is now working with at-risk youth in New Orleans -- at a much lower salary, his attorney noted -- and traveling back and forth to his home in New York City.

He could have faced prison time. But prosecutors asked U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola to give him five years probation during which Rossini could not work for the federal government or any law enforcement agency, plus a $10,000 fine.

Prosecutors said although Rossini's crime did not affect the outcome of the Pellicano case, he compromised the prosecution and created extra work for FBI agents involved in Los Angeles. And they noted that Rossini lied to his supervisors and investigators when confronted with evidence of his crime.

But Facciola took a lighter stance and sentenced Rossini to one year probation for each count to be served concurrently and a $5,000 fine. Facciola also said Rossini would have to get his approval to work for the federal government or law enforcement, but he wouldn't unreasonably withhold it and just wanted to know what he was doing.

Facciola said he related to the defendant, nothing they are both Italians from New York who committed their careers to public service. He praised Rossini's "extraordinarily distinguished career," said sentencing him was "no easier for me than you" and wished him well.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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