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Former FX Publicist Gets Probation

Former FX Networks publicity executive Randolph Steven Webster has been sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $22,607 in restitution to his former employer to resolve charges that he illegally listened into weekly teleconferences at the cable network and spread the information he gleaned.

Webster could have been sentenced to up to three years in prison, and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office recommended a two-year term.

But after reviewing the pleadings from both sides, Judge Norman Shapiro last week said he could find no evidence of economic harm to FX, said Webster’s attorney, David Scheper.

The defense argued that the information Webster shared with reporters was also available elsewhere.

Webster “got whacked at work and he reacted badly,” Scheper said, summing up his defense.

Webster was fired from his position of vice president of publicity of FX in 2001. After he left, investigators determined, he used access codes he had been given while an employee to dial into telephone meetings. He eavesdropped on strategy sessions for more than two years after his termination, according to the court record.

Investigators contended that Webster was angry after his termination and spread information about his former employer to wound his former boss and mentor, FX president Peter Liguori.

Webster entered a plea of no contest to one felony count of wiretapping in September.

Webster — interviewed days after the sentencing — said he’d made a mistake listening in on the calls, for which he has “paid a dear price.”

Webster said he was involved in a wrongful termination suit for two years after his termination and felt the need to defend himself against negative comments by a big corporation.

“I have learned, through this whole scenario, that your job should not be your life,” he said.

An FX spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.

Webster, who worked for Game Show Network and NBC Universal after his dismissal from FX, now operates a boutique PR and marketing agency. Clients include tennis great Pete Sampras (his brother-in-law) and National Football League players, Webster said.

Bail, amounting to $10,000 posted by Webster, will be credited toward the restitution and paid to FX. In addition to the restitution, Webster must pay $220 in fines and court costs.

In sentencing Webster, Shapiro gave him the opportunity to have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor on his record if he meets the terms and conditions of his probation for the next 18 months.