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LAS VEGAS -- MGM Mirage officials on Thursday praised a longtime board member who has been indicted by a federal grand jury but said they were monitoring the situation.
The second-largest casino operator released a brief statement on prominent Beverly Hills attorney Terry Christensen the day after he was charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of intercepting wire communications.
Christensen has been a personal attorney and adviser to billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, MGM Mirage's largest shareholder, for 35 years.
"Terry Christensen has for almost 20 years served our company with distinction. We are reviewing the situation," said the company statement, which referred media to Christensen's Los Angeles law firm for additional information.
Christensen, 65, who has been a member of Las Vegas-based MGM Mirage's board of directors since Aug. 1, 1987, could face up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted of the two charges.
Prosecutors allege that Christensen conspired with private investigator Anthony Pellicano to wiretap the phones of Kerkorian's former wife, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, who was involved in a court battle against an unidentified Christensen client.
Christensen allegedly paid Pellicano at least $100,000 for the illegal wiretap, court documents show.
Federal prosecutors also revealed that they had obtained taped conversations between Pellicano and clients who hired him to dig up dirt on their rivals.
Pellicano, who has worked for some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, was charged this month with wiretapping people he was investigating.
Prosecutors said he taped conversations with clients.
"What they have here is dynamite," said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor and professor at Loyola Law School. "This is very important evidence because you don't have the question of credibility. Tapes don't lie."
Kerkorian issued a one-sentence statement Wednesday through Tracinda Corp., his wholly owned company: "Terry Christensen is a paragon of integrity who has always done the right thing throughout the 35 years I have had the privilege of knowing him."
Nevada gaming regulators said they were following the matter but weren't planning to take any action because state gaming regulations don't require a board member who is charged with a crime to be removed from that office.
"Because it's a criminal matter, we'll follow the situation closely," control board Chairman Dennis Neilander said Wednesday. "At this point, he's not been found guilty of anything, but it is a matter we'll watch."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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