"Perry Mason of Hollywood" Set to Be Indicted on Criminal Campaign Finance Charges

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, California attorney Pierce O’Donnell has represented clients including actress Faye Dunaway (in a wrongful termination suit against Andrew Lloyd Webber), columnist Art Buchwald (in a suit against Paramount), as well MGM, NBC and Lockheed, and has been called the new Perry Mason of Hollywood. In addition to his legal celebrity, O'Donnell is further an author, poet and screenwriter, publishing “Fatal Subtraction: The Inside Story of Buchwald v. Paramount,” about the Buchwald case; “Dawn’s Early Light,” a book of poetry; and “In Time of War: Hitler’s Terrorist Attack on America,” as well as co-writing the film "Home Team" with actor Steve Guttenberg. O'Donnell stated in an interview with Fortune magazine that "The trial lawyer has to embody the skills of a great filmmaker. He’s a writer — he writes his own material, he outlines what his witnesses are going to say. He’s the director — he directs the performances. He’s the producer — he has to make all the physical arrangements. And he’s the actor."

However, O'Donnell may be forced to take a leading role he does not want--that of criminal defendant. The Los Angeles Times has reported that a federal grand jury has been investigating O'Donnell to determine whether O'Donnell allegedly violated campaign finance laws by asking employees of his law firm to contribute to the 2004 presidential campaign of former North Carolina Senator John Edwards and reimbursing employees who did. O'Donnell has responded that he would be willing to plead to a misdemeanor and pay a large fine, however, representatives of the United States Attorneys Office for the Southern District of California have stated that they would require O'Donnell to plead guilty to a felony.

O'Donnell pleaded no contest in 2006 to state charges for similar conduct in the campaign of Los Angeles City Attorney James Hahn for Mayor of Los Angeles, and was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay more than $155,000 in fines and penalties.
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