High-profile entertainment lawyer Terry Christensen is scheduled to be sentenced next week in L.A. federal court, where he could receive up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
But before Christensen learns his fate on Nov. 24, some of the 68-year-old's closest friends are coming to his defense.
Last week, Christensen's lawyers submitted a sentencing memorandum and character reference letters to U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer. Christensen's supporters include billionaire Ed Roski Jr., Roski's daughter Reon, CKE Corp. Chief Executive Andrew Puzder, ex-Secretary of State Alexander Haig and former U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian Jr.
In the memo, Christensen's attorneys also detail his longtime working relationship and friendship with billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, stating that "ironically, Mr. Christensen would not be facing criminal charges in the first place but for the steps he took to help his friend, Kirk Kerkorian."
In August, Christensen was found guilty of conspiracy to commit wiretapping and aiding and abetting a wiretap when he hired now-convicted private sleuth Anthony Pellicano to intercept and record the phone calls of billionaire Kerkorian's ex-wife during a bitter child support battle.
Terree Bowers, Christensen's attorney, said the letters focus on Christensen as an individual his ethical and moral character.
"They focus on the exemplary life he has led," Bowers said. "And his brief involvement with Pellicano was truly aberrational."
The prosecution also submitted character letters, with Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, the billionaire's ex-wife, speaking of the trauma that the actions of Pellicano and Christensen caused her and her daughter.
"Pellicano, Christensen and the other criminals have created the 'prison' that my daughter and I will be living in for the rest of our lives," she wrote.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Saunders wants Christensen to serve three years in prison and pay a $500,000 fine.
It was three years ago that L.A. environmental attorney Terry Avchen began researching how he could recover money from the U.S. government on behalf of Steadfast Insurance Co., which is paying millions to cleanup a contaminated perchlorate site in Santa Clarita.
Avchen argued that the government was responsible for the costs of cleaning up the rocket fuel byproduct because it arranged for disposal of the hazardous waste that caused the contamination.
And in a precedent-setting settlement, Avchen succeeded.
Two weeks ago, an L.A. federal district court judge signed off on a $33.8 million settlement between Steadfast and the government.
"I was surprised we were able to settle the case. Typically the government does not settle cases like this unless on the eve of trial," said Avchen, a partner at Century City firm Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs & Shapiro LLP. "But it did not want to have a legal precedent on its liability for perchlorate."
Before suing the government, the Schaumburg, Ill.-based company agreed to pay up to $75 million of the cleanup costs under an insurance policy held by Whittaker Corp.
Since 1934, a number of companies, including Whittaker, manufactured and tested munitions, explosives and fireworks at the site, which is known as the Whittaker-Bermite site. The 988-acre parcel, in the heart of the Santa Clarita Valley, remains in the cleanup phase.
Avchen said the site became contaminated after the companies followed the government's disposal guidelines requiring that the perchlorate be dumped in a pit, set on fire, and then watered down. But after watering the perchlorate, Avchen said the waste dissolves into the water table, contaminating drinking water.
L.A. entertainment lawyer Ron Rosen has represented musicians and entertainment studios in their intellectual property disputes, including the likes of composer John Williams and rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot.
Two weeks ago, the TroyGould LLP partner published a 569-page treatise detailing his 50 years of experience as a litigator working on music infringement and copyright disputes.
Rosen said the idea for the book, "Music and Copyright," began after Stanford Law professor Paul Goldstein encouraged Rosen to write about his case involving Williams and the music featured in the Steven Spielberg classic "ET."
"I couldn't see how there would be a book in this case," Rosen said. "But, about 600 pages later, I realized that Goldstein was right.
Rosen grew up listening to central eastern European music with his grandparents, and took up the piano at 7 years-old. But at 18, Rosen said he realized he'd never play professionally.
"I couldn't continue any longer because it was discovered I had a disability: no talent," Rosen said.
These days Rosen settles for listening to music instead of playing it. But he enjoys rapping along to his client Sir Mix-a-Lot's classic "Baby Got Back."
Staff reporter Alexa Hyland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235.
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