NEW ROCHELLE, NY — On April 20th, Michael G. Dowd sent us an unsolicited email with a threat:
“Publish false content at your own peril.”
So, who is Michael G. Dowd and why is he sending us threatening emails?
On February 28th, two local media outlets reported that Michael Dowd filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman from Monroe, NY against the Yonkers School District in a matter alleged to have involved former New Rochelle High School head football coach Lou DiRienzo.
Dowd, is quoted saying “That’s why she’s coming forward now,” he said. “My client is certain that he did this to other girls before and after her, and she wants them to know that they did nothing wrong and that it’s OK to speak up.”
The plaintiff took the unusual step of giving a phone interview, presumably at the encouragement of Dowd. We later asked this question of Dowd and did not receive an answer.
As the story was already public, we linked the stories on lohud.com and news12.com and left it at that. We do not typically run stories when they have already been broken by another media outlet, we just link to their stories.
Just to make sure the lawsuit was accurately reported by the Journal News and News12, we reached out to Mr. Dowd later that day requesting a copy of the lawsuit and whatever information he might care to provide. Over a period of weeks, Dowd did not reply to several attempts to reach him.
Having not received a reply we made a few searches of the docket of the Westchester County Supreme Court on eCourts, the website of the New York Statement Unified Court System which showed “no results” for cases where the Defendent is “Yonkers Schools” or “Louis DiRienzo”. A search for cases filed by Michael Dowd returned 3 cases from 2019 filed by Michael G. Dowd against Westchester Day School. A search for attorneys named “Michael Dowd” in the database returns only one, “Michael G. Dowd” with a law office in Manhattan.
After a month, we gave it one last try, sending another email and leaving a message.
Below is a copy of the email we sent in March to Michael G. Dowd.
I have been attempting since February to confirm that you are the Michael Dowd representing a woman from Monroe, NY mentioned in news accounts in the Journal News and News12 of a lawsuit filed against Yonkers School District with regards to allegations against Louis DiRienzo.
I have sent emails and left voice mails seeking from you a copy of the lawsuit or even an index number.
I have searched eCourts numerous times to no avail.
I have asked the Journal News for a copy of the lawsuit to no avail.
I am left to conclude that, in fact, no lawsuit has been filed. I intend to report on all of this today.
If you are not the Michael Dowd referenced in these media accounts now would be the time to tell me that.
If you are the same person, now would be the time to produce a copy of the filed lawsuit described in the media.
I have one question at this time, based on the News12 report. Why would you have your client do an on the record interview (or any interview) with News12 (or any media outlet)?
The overall appearance is that no lawsuit was filed and that you used News12 and The Journal News to troll for more clients without actually filing a lawsuit.
Is there even a notice of claim in this matter?
You can anticipate we will publish an article on all of this sometime today.
Publisher and Managing Editor
Talk of the Sound
Unless some new information emerges as a result of this article, we are left to conclude no lawsuit in this matter was filed.
Michael G. Dowd responded to this email. He claimed to be unaware of any voicemails or emails from Talk of the Sound. Dowd declined to produce a copy of the lawsuit he filed or even an index number.
Dowd said every media outlet that he “cooperated with” (presumably News12 and the Journal News) agreed not to publish the current name of his client. Asked if his client’s name was in the lawsuit, he said it was. Asked if he had provided a copy of the lawsuit to other media outlets, he said News12 and Journal News obtained the lawsuit from the courts.
Regardless, we do not agree to “conditions” to obtain public records.
When we declined to agree to any pre-conditions on our reporting Dowd terminated the call.
We eventually obtained a copy of the lawsuit on our own and read it.
The lawsuit was accurately described in the media.
Several weeks later, Dowd sent an unsolicited email on April 20th:
my client’s case was filed in Supreme Court. You refused to publish without my client’s name. Publish false content at your own peril.
Michael G. Dowd
1981 Marcus Avenue, Suite 200
Lake Success, New York 11042
As longtime readers know, Talk of the Sound does not take kindly to lawyers threatening journalists for doing their jobs.
What made the email especially odd is that in three months since Dowd filed the lawsuit, we have not covered the case at all.
Here is our reply:
You are clearly not a well person.
Here is what is false: I “refused to publish without (your) client’s name.”
Stop lying about me or YOU will the one looking down the barrel of a defamation lawsuit.
The truth is I refused to hear from you any conditions demanded by you in “exchange” for answering a simple question about when and where you filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman against the Yonkers school district as reported in the Journal News and on News12.
Maybe the hacks at Journal News and News12 are lazy enough and stupid enough to buy whatever baloney you are selling. Not me. I do not agree to “conditions” on what I do and do not report regarding information contained in public records. As soon as you began to state you had such conditions I cut you off and would not listen.
I now have that information anyway so you can take your “conditions” and stick them in your ear.
Apparently you are too stupid to understand the implications of my not have published ANYTHING at all about the lawsuit. The lawsuit does not interest me. Any idiot can find an ambulance chasing hack lawyer to file a claim in court and, it appears, this woman found one. I expect the case will be dismissed so I do not want to give the claims oxygen. My interest was to read the lawsuit to see if the media reports were accurate not because I wished to publish a story.
What interests me now is YOU, your nasty bullying conduct in this matter and your disreputable history. It is shame you got your law license back if you think its purpose is to threaten reporters with litigation. Let’s see how threatening me works out for you.
Have a nice day.
Publisher and Managing Editor
Talk of the Sound
To put this in context, Michael G. Dowd has a history of unethical, even criminal behavior.
In a 2011 profile, The New York Times referred to him as “the black widow lawyer” because he had defended dozens of women who killed their husbands. Dowd has a sordid past including paying bribes to a City official and was barred from practicing law for years.
￼In 1986, he was involved in a corruption scandal after he revealed that his company, which had a contract with the city to collect overdue parking fines for the Parking Violations Bureau, had paid about $30,000 in kickbacks over an 18-month period to the Queens borough president, Donald R. Manes. In return, his company was to receive a lucrative parking ticket collection contract.”
As the scandal erupted, Mr. Manes committed suicide by stabbing himself in the heart. Mr. Dowd, for his part, became the star witness for the federal prosecutor investigating the case, Rudolph W. Giuliani. He got immunity from prosecution but was suspended from practicing law for five years for violating the state disciplinary code for lawyers.
The first day of January 1986 was brisk and clear. At City Hall, Edward Koch was sworn in to a third term. In places of honor at the ceremony were Manes and Friedman. “Public service is the noblest of professions if it’s done honestly and well,” Koch intoned as the machine’s borough bosses looked on.
Also present was U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani, who, with Sandow as an informant, was already probing the Parking Violations Bureau. He was not sure yet how far upstairs the venality went.
Donny Manes’ suicide attempt answered that question.
Manes was barely in the hospital before Geoffrey Lindenauer agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
And on Jan. 23, Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin brought down the Queens political boss after one Michael Dowd, a partner in a collection agency called Computrace, confessed to him that he had paid Manes $36,000 in bribes over an 18-month period.
Mayor Koch declared himself betrayed and publicly branded his old friend Donny a crook.
On Feb. 11, Manes resigned in disgrace.
A month later, Lindenauer admitted in Manhattan Federal Court that he had been Manes’ bagman and pleaded guilty to taking $410,000 in bribes from PVB contractors.
At 9:52 p.m. on the 13th of March, Donald Manes opened a kitchen drawer in his Jamaica Estates home, took out an Ekko stainless steel knife and plunged it into his heart.
Readers can draw their own conclusions about the ethical standard of Michael G. Dowd.