Real Ex-Wife of Beverly Hills to Pay $4 Million for Spying on Children
A real – not reality show – ex-wife of a Beverly Hills billionaire has been ordered by a jury to pay $4 million for spying on her ex’s three children and personal assistant.
Jacqueline Colburn, who was 38 when she married 85-year-old billionaire philanthropist Richard Colburn, was accused of wiretapping hundreds of private calls by her husband and his three children in order to get a leg up in her divorce.
The couple was divorced in 2002 and Richard died in 2004.
Only years later did his children and a personal assistant discover they had been wiretapped when someone emailed them a New York Times article about a rogue private eye named Anthony Pellicano, convicted of conspiracy, wiretapping and other charges and sent to federal prison for 15 years. Their names appeared in the article as victims of Pellicano’s illegal spying.
In the children’s lawsuit for invasion of privacy, they claimed that their former step-mom paid Pellicano in cash and jewelry to bug their phones with a software program called TeleSleuth, and to listen to calls going in and out of the home for nearly a year.
“This is not a victimless crime here, ladies and gentleman,” Lawrence Segal, the family’s attorney, told the jury. “This is something that impacts people.”
Jacqueline Colburn’s lawyer, Stanley McKiernan, argued that there was no proof that Pellicano did the wiretapping at the request of Jacqueline Colburn, and that the children waited too long to file their lawsuit, leaving only two viable claims by the time of the trial.
But the California jury blamed Colburn for invasion of privacy and causing emotional distress to the plaintiffs, ordering her to pay $3.9 million in damages.