'Die Hard' Director Sentenced to One Year in Prison for Lying to FBI

By Fred Shuster
|  Tuesday, Oct 5, 2010  |  Updated 9:48 AM EDT
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John McTiernan attendsthe Academy's Science & Technology Council presents 'The Hunt For Red October' screening at the Linwood Dunn Theater on March 18, 2010 in Hollywood, California.

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"Die Hard" director John McTiernan was sentenced Monday to a year in federal prison and fined $100,000 for lying to FBI agents and a federal judge in a wiretapping and racketeering case involving a former sleuth to the stars.

  "The defendant doesn't think the law applies to him, and the court has no reason to believe he will not violate the law again when it suits him," U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer said before imposing the sentence.
  
McTiernan was indicted in April 2009 in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles on two counts of making false statements to federal agents and one count of perjury.
  
The case dates to 2006, when McTiernan pleaded guilty to a charge of "knowingly lying" to FBI agents involved in the Anthony Pellicano case.
  
Shortly afterward, the filmmaker asked to back out of his plea, arguing that he had received poor legal advice and was jet-lagged and under the influence of alcohol when federal agents interviewed him.
 
Instead, Fischer sentenced him to four months in federal prison and fined him $100,000.

On April 17, 2009, McTiernan was indicted by a federal grand jury on the current charges, and pleaded guilty on July 12.
  
Along with the 12-month prison term and fine, Fischer ordered McTiernan to serve a three-year term of supervised release. The judge allowed the filmmaker to remain free on bond pending appeal.
  
"Regardless of a person's status, lying to law enforcement and to a federal court are serious crimes deserving of punishment," Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel A. Saunders and Kevin M. Lally said in a joint statement. "We believe that the sentence imposed today reflects this fact."
  
McTiernan, whose directing credits include "Predator," 'The Thomas Crown Affair" and "The Hunt for Red October," declined an opportunity to address the court.
  
Defense attorney Oliver Diaz said afterward that his client had been "forced to plead guilty to a crime most people don't even know is a crime."

McTiernan pleaded guilty "in order to take his case directly back to the Ninth Circuit where we firmly believe he will prevail," his lawyer said.
  
Diaz said the charge of lying to FBI agents stems from a telephone conversation his client had with federal agents in which the government "ignored several of its own internal policies," and did not read McTiernan his Miranda rights or tape-record the conversation.
  
"The agent did not tell Mr. McTiernan that he was the subject of an investigation for an event that had occurred six years earlier," Diaz said.
  
In his initial 2006 guilty plea, McTiernan admitted he hired Pellicano to illegally wiretap film producer Charles Roven after they worked on the 2002 film "Rollerball," and then lied to an FBI agent about the bugging.
  
Fischer said today that McTiernan's crimes "do not reflect a momentary lack of judgement or aberration."
  
Amid his legal problems, McTiernan directed a documentary that claims former Bush administration adviser Karl Rove pursued the Pellicano case as part of a conspiracy under Bush to prosecute Democrats.
  
Pellicano, now 66, was convicted of 78 felonies, including racketeering, conspiracy and wiretapping, at two separate trials in 2008. The former private eye to the stars is currently serving a 15-year sentence in federal prison.
 

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