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It was this incident, it turns out—and not the fish on Anita Busch’s Audi, as previous reports suggest—which first brought Pellicano’s secret world to the F.B.I.’s attention as part of the Nicherie brother’s saga with the Shafrir family.

According to a lawsuit, the saga is complex, including  allegations: Daniel and Abner Nicherie were Israeli con men, who targeted fellow Israeli, Ami Shafrir, owner of several Beverly Hills office buildings.

Posing as legitimate businessmen, they succeeded not only in swindling Shafrir out of around $40 million—but also in persuading his wife, Sarit, to work alongside them, convincing her  Ami was a criminal.

When Ami sued, the Nicheries responded with a barrage of legal artillery, eventually hiring 40 separate Los Angeles attorneys to countersue.

After a referral from one of these lawyers, Victor Sherman, they allegedly paid Pellicano $50,000 to wiretap Ami.

Pellicano told the Nicheries he could use customized electronics to cause interference on Ami’s cell phone, which would force him to use the wiretapped landline more often.

Anthony Pellicano and Howard Weitzman

The Nicheries understood Ami was being bugged, although Pellicano initially refused to let them listen in.

But the Nicheries were eventually given access to the recordings because Ami sometimes spoke in Hebrew, and Pellicano couldn’t understand him.

He made the two brothers swear that what they heard would remain confidential.

On several occasions they arrived at Pellicano’s office after hours, allowing themselves to be frisked and turning over their cellular phones.

Unbeknownst to Pellicano, however, Daniel Nicherie had secreted a tiny cell phone in his sock, which he used to allow Ami’s wife, Sarit, to listen in on the wiretap recordings.

Sarit Shafrir, heard dozens of Ami’s conversations this way; sometimes the Nicheries would call from Pellicano’s office and play back a tape, other times they would leave a recording of the wiretap on her answering machine.

In time, the Nicheries and Pellicano began speaking of ways to put Ami in jail by framing him; one involved planting cocaine in the trunk of his car and having a Beverly Hills policeman on Pellicano’s payroll pull him over.

It was then, Sarit’s  began having second thoughts about the Nicheries.