Famed musicians' union lawyer arrested for embezzling
UPDATE July 11, 2011: News reports say Leibowitz pleaded guilty to embezzling from Independent Artists of America (now American Guild of Musical Artists). He wrote checks to himself, his law firm and his former wife -- more than $350,000. Sentencing will be handed down in October.
That outbreak of schadenfreude you may notice around the country could be orchestra management folks getting news about their national nemesis, lawyer Leonard Leibowitz, arrested this week in New York and charged with embezzling $150,000 from a union fund at the American Ballet Theater.
Hired for many years by unions across to the country to represent players at the negotiating table, Leibowitz was famed for his strong tactics -- and for damaging orchestras hit with strikes he had advocated.
I remember covering a tense contract negotiating session at the ...
now-defunct Florida Philharmonic back in the 1990s. It was clear which way Leibowitz was leaning early on. When I asked for a reaction on how the meetings were going, his response was, "Sometimes you just have to strike to get their attention."
As it turned out, a strike was narrowly averted that year, but not the next time.
Of course, I'm sure he did lots of good things for musicians along the way. And he may even be able to explain his current situation to the satisfaction of the court. Meanwhile, I suspect he won't be generating heaps of sympathy in some corners.