Ex-FX VP Snooping on Conference Calls

A longtime Los Angeles cable publicist allegedly listened in on the weekly strategy sessions of his former colleagues at FX, according to charges brought against him by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

Authorities asserted that Randolph Webster (known professionally by his middle name, Steve), who was vice president of publicity for FX from 1999 through July 2001, used information he had while an executive with that company to access a weekly teleconference for nearly two-and-a-half years after he was terminated.

Deputy district attorney Jeffrey McGrath of the high-tech crime unit of the consumer-protection division alleged that the eavesdropping continued during Webster’s subsequent cable jobs. After he was terminated by FX, Webster, 38, worked as VP for corporate communications and marketing for GSN (then Game Show Network). In 2002, he moved over to then-Universal Television Group, where he was senior VP for communications until early this year.

Steve Meister, a former deputy DA himself, is representing Webster and said, “Steve is a longtime professional in Los Angeles with an impeccable record.”

If anything happened, he added, it was “due to a lack of judgment due to a very unusual set of circumstances.” He stressed that no one was harmed, professionally or financially, due to the alleged activities.

The investigation was launched when the DA’s office was tipped that Webster might be listening in on the company that fired him. Warrants were served on Webster’s home and office in February.

He has been charged with one count of wiretapping, a felony, for his phone activities between July 31, 2001, and Jan. 20 of this year. If convicted, he could be sentenced to three years in state prison.

The security breach surfaced just two months after five employees and a consultant to Fox Cable Group were charged with allegedly downloading theatrical content using company servers. Authorities have not said whether the investigations are related.