Inmate No. 21568-112 settles into a blue plastic chair inside the gymnasium-size visitor center at Big Spring Federal Correctional Institution, clad in a beige jumpsuit that matches the color of the dead grass surrounding the prison.
Beyond the barbed wire lies the town of Big Spring, Texas (population: 25,000), a dusty, godforsaken former Air Force town pockmarked with shuttered businesses, fast-food joints, and four other detention and correctional facilities. The town’s biggest claim to fame was its supporting role in the 1969 best picture, Midnight Cowboy: this is the place Jon Voight’s character calls home, until he heads off to Manhattan to become a hustler.
And now it’s home to the hustler named Anthony Pellicano, self-styled Detective to the Stars, whose Soprano persona and win-at-any-cost tactics made him the No. 1 guy that Hollywood actors, suits, and their attorneys turned to whenever they had a problem. A big problem. The kind of problem where big bucks and bigger egos were at stake. With a Louisville Slugger in the trunk of his car and a computerized phone-hacking system in his Sunset Boulevard office, Pellicano dug up dirt on his clients’ enemies and helped make those problems go away—whether it was the embittered spouse of a mogul, an inconvenient gay lover, or a nosy journalist. That is, until he allegedly hired someone to intimidate the wrong nosy journalist—Anita Busch of the Los Angeles Times—and the FBI got involved, blowing the lid off the biggest wiretapping operation this side of Watergate.
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