UNION LAWYER PLEADS GUILTY IN MANHATTAN FEDERAL COURT TO FALSIFYING RECORDS FILED ON BEHALFOF AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE DANCERS AND STAGEHANDS

7 July 2011 – PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, announced today that union lawyer
LEONARD LEIBOWITZ pled guilty to one count of falsifying reports
filed on behalf of the Independent Artists of America Union
(“IAA”), a small, independent union of approximately 80 dancers
and stagehands at the American Ballet Theatre (“ABT”) at Lincoln
Center. LEIBOWITZ pled guilty in Manhattan federal court before
U.S. District Judge DENISE L. COTE.
According to the Indictment, the Complaint, and
statements made in Manhattan federal court today:
In 1994, LEIBOWITZ, with ABT dancers and stagehands,
founded a new independent union, the IAA. LEIBOWITZ served as
the union’s attorney from its inception through 2007. The IAA
averaged about $80,000 per year in dues from its members and
those dues were deposited into a bank account that LEIBOWITZ
controlled.
In 1997, LEIBOWITZ told a union official he was having
financial difficulties and obtained an advance on his monthly
retainer. It was later discovered that LEIBOWITZ wrote IAA
checks totaling more than $350,000 to himself, his law firm, and
his former wife.
In 2007, new union leadership learned that LEIBOWITZ
owed the union the difference between the checks he had written
for himself and the retainers he was paid — approximately
$150,000. New union leadership also reviewed annual reports the
IAA was required to file with the U.S. Department of Labor –-
reports that LEIBOWITZ helped prepare. While the reports listed
the amount LEIBOWITZ had advanced himself each year as a “loan,”
the signatures on the reports from the union officials who
purportedly had reviewed the forms had been forged in the names
of individuals who no longer served as union officers at the time
the reports were filed. In addition, certain signatures were
forged at LEIBOWITZ’s request by the union officer who LEIBOWITZ
initially told about his need for an advance.
When confronted by new IAA leadership about his
withdrawal of union funds for personal use, LEIBOWITZ stated,
among other things, that he needed the money because he owed
money to the government, and his children attended private
school. LEIBOWITZ also admitted that by 2000 he realized he had
borrowed more than he could pay back.
* * *
LEIBOWITZ, 72, of Highland Beach, Florida, faces a
maximum sentence of one year in prison. As part of the plea
agreement, he agreed to forfeit the proceeds of his crime and to
pay restitution in the amount of $76,071 to the American Guild of
Musical Artists, which is the successor union to the IAA. In
addition, LEIBOWITZ faces a maximum bar from representing a labor
union of 13 years. He will be sentenced by Judge COTE on October
14, 2011, at 11:00 a.m.
Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of the U.S.
Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public
Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney CARRIE H. COHEN is in
charge of the prosecution.
11-197 ###

Scroll to Top