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It’s looking like a good thing that Alan Weil’s an expert in legal malpractice. And it’s probably equally fortunate that he’s a former L.A. federal prosecutor, since over the past two weeks the Los Angeles U.S. attorney’s office has had Weil � along with his Century City firm, Gaims, Weil, West & Epstein � under increasing scrutiny in the wiretapping probe of celebrity PI Anthony Pellicano. Weil, who says he hasn’t done anything wrong, certainly isn’t the big name many expected to go down since prosecutors indicted top L.A. litigator Terry Christensen and Pellicano himself earlier this year. But unlike top entertainment attorney Bertram Fields and celebrity divorce lawyer Dennis Wasser � who have both admitted to being investigated in the probe � prosecutors seem to be rapidly working their way to Weil. That could largely be based on evidentiary issues. Sources familiar with the case say prosecutors have had trouble decoding digital audio files from Pellicano’s hard drive that they believe could point to other attorneys. But much of the documentation of Weil’s relationship with Pellicano is more readily available. Last week a former Weil client, record executive Robert Pfeifer, pleaded guilty to paying Pellicano $125,000 to wiretap his ex-girlfriend. The tap occurred in a case where Weil was his attorney, and the rather sparse details of Pfeifer’s sealed plea suggest that he’s cooperating with prosecutors. For one thing, a more serious count against Pfeifer for witness tampering was dismissed. “As I understand it, he pled to the lesser charge, and the plea agreement is under seal,” said Steven Gruel, the San Francisco solo representing Pellicano in the case. “Based on my experience as a prosecutor, any time a plea agreement is under seal, it means that a person is cooperating.” Pfeifer’s lawyer, Evan Jenness, said last week that she couldn’t comment on the terms of the plea agreement. But the notion that prosecutors have been focusing on Weil was bolstered by another L.A. lawyer who said he was interviewed last week by FBI agents about wiretaps in a case involving Weil and Pellicano. In a phone conversation last Wednesday, that lawyer was asked direct questions about alleged wiretapping, which led him to believe the U.S. attorney’s office is looking at Weil. The lawyer, who was opposing counsel to Weil, said there was no doubt his conversations with his client were wiretapped during part of the litigation. Weil said last week that his firm hasn’t been called by prosecutors in relation to the Pellicano investigation. “We haven’t been contacted,” he said, adding he has not been notified that the firm is a target, and that he hasn’t hired a lawyer to deal publicly with the matter. It’s not clear whether Weil or his clients hired Pellicano in the cases they worked on together. For example, Pfeifer admits to hiring Pellicano himself. But the lawyer had a years-long relationship with the private eye. According to court filings, the relationship between Pellicano and Weil goes back to at least the early 1990s when Weil defended the detective in a defamation suit stemming from litigation involving Michael Jackson. In 2002, when Pellicano was indicted on explosives charges, Weil represented Pellicano in that criminal case. Another defense lawyer who represented Pellicano, Victor Sherman, said last month that Weil had hired Pellicano in connection with several cases. Another suit cited in the 110-count indictment of Pellicano involved sexual harassment litigation between the late toxic tort lawyer Edward Masry and a former associate at his firm, Kissandra Cohen. Cohen claimed in civil litigation that she was wiretapped by Pellicano under the direction of lawyers at the Gaims, Weil firm. The firm settled that suit last week for an undisclosed sum, and lawyers for the firm and Cohen did not return phone calls. Another case cited in the Pellicano indictment � litigation between Ami Shafrir and Pellicano co-defendants Abner and Daniel Nicherie, also involved Weil’s firm, although it’s not clear whether Pellicano was hired separately from the firm.

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