Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
The trumpeted sexual harassment suit against Gov. James McGreevey by former aide Golan Cipel would no doubt be the most sensational employment case in state history. The threat alone led the governor to resign and acknowledge that he is gay. So who did Cipel, identified by McGreevey aides as the man with whom the governor had a consensual, adulterous affair, turn to as his lawyer? Not a plaintiffs’ employment attorney familiar with the state’s Law Against Discrimination. Instead, the Israeli national hired by McGreevey as a homeland security adviser chose Allen Lowy, a friend who lives in the same midtown high-rise he does. Lowy has no visible labor and employment experience, is not admitted in New Jersey and, according to a close friend and colleague, is not a litigator. Lowy has brought on co-counsel, but that lawyer, Great Neck, N.Y., solo Rachel Yosevitz, has handled primarily insurance and real estate matters. Why Lowy? The 46-year-old Manhattan solo says he has worked on employment matters in New York but declines to name them, citing confidentiality in some cases and saying others are pending. But McGreevey aides and allies, including lawyers, have another explanation: extortion. They say the governor, who claims the affair was consensual, called Cipel’s and Lowy’s bluff and took away his only leverage, the possibility of keeping the matter secret. Alleging that Lowy pushed for a $5 million settlement in face-to-face meetings, the governor had his lawyer, William Lawler III, refer the matter to the FBI. Lowy denies any shakedown attempt. “I never made a settlement offer,” he said in a telephone interview Friday. Further, he says it was the governor’s representatives who asked what specific dollar amount would keep Cipel quiet. Lowy also accuses McGreevey representatives, including Lawler, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Vinson & Elkins, of attempting to intimidate him and Cipel. “They tried to persuade me not to file, saying that if I filed, not only will Golan be put under scrutiny, but that, quote, we’ll look into you too, end quote.” LITTLE INFORMATION PROVIDED Two sources familiar with the negotiations on the governor’s side say they believed Lowy had crossed the line from legitimate settlement talks to extortion because of his approach and his evasiveness. “We just couldn’t get a handle on him,” says one source. Lowy, these sources say, would not cite his venue for filing, name potential witnesses, or offer evidence or proofs such as times or places. He declined to make Cipel available for an interview, he never sent McGreevey or the state a demand letter, and to date he has put nothing in writing. Employment lawyers on both the labor and management side say that while demand letters are not required, they are routinely used by plaintiffs’ attorneys to lay out the nature of the allegations in some detail. Moreover, discussions about the specifics of the charges are necessary for settlement. Lowy acknowledges that he gave very little to the governor’s representatives, including chief counsel Michael De Cotiis. “Lawyers don’t give details. They don’t show their cards.” He adds, though, that he and co-counsel Yosevitz gave De Cotiis and Lawler one specific example of sexual harassment. Later, Lowy says he offered more than one example, and discussed one witness, whom he would not name. He declined to say whether he has produced a draft complaint. But he said that five minutes before McGreevey gave his resignation speech on Aug. 12, he had a deal. Lawler, a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., from 1989 to 1996, says, “That’s absolutely false, we had no deal.” Although he strongly implied during an Aug. 13 press conference that Cipel would sue, he now says Cipel may never do so. But Lowy acknowledges that dollar figures were discussed in terms of what the case would be worth at trial, and concedes he mentioned the possibility of a judgment of up to $50 million. “I said we had a deal, but I never said it was a money deal,” says Lowy. “Golan considers the governor’s resignation comments as an admission of guilt [of sexual harrassment]. He was looking for not only a recognition of the governor’s guilt, but an apology. This was never about money.” Yet Lowy also said, when asked, that he would sue the state, which suggests a goal of money damages. Several employment lawyers say it would be difficult to settle such a suit in secret, even though prelitigation settlement agreements do not have to be placed on the record. Asked how Lowy proposed payment, and who would pay, one source on the governor’s side says, “That is the key issue in the referral” to the FBI. Asked whether Cipel would sue, Lowy says, “It’s entirely up to Golan. When he’s up to it and strong, then he’ll make a decision.” Cipel has returned to Israel, where he has given several interviews saying he is not gay but was pressured by McGreevey for sex during his eight months on the state payroll. He says he did not succumb to the pressure. CIPEL TEAM IN STRANGE WATERS Lowy says he is a litigator and corporate lawyer concentrating on intellectual property and computer law. He says his practice includes handling investments in overseas corporations by Americans and representing foreign investors interested in U.S. companies. But Jonathan Stein, a solo in Elmont, N.Y., who considers himself a close friend of Lowy’s, says Lowy does no litigation. “He calls me when he needs a litigator,” says Stein, who has been co-counsel with Lowy on several corporate and intellectual property matters. Lowy spends much of his time on his passion, the arts. He says he and colleagues, including other lawyers, collaborate on assisting Russian Jews in Israel who are artists, especially classical musicians, with obtaining financing, scholarships and instruments. “When I meet a taxi driver, an immigrant, playing classical music in my cab, I invite him to classical music concerts,” says Lowy. Lowy’s office is located in an office building at 57th St. and Broadway, near his residence at 59th St. and Columbus Avenue. He has an office within a small suite of offices. No names are on the office entrance, and no secretary or receptionist was there when a reporter visited last Wednesday afternoon. Lowy has no answering service. His office telephone is answered with a recording saying, “I’m sorry, but there’s no room right now to record your message.” He is reachable by cell phone. Lowy says the employment expertise lies with his co-counsel, Yosevitz, who is admitted in New Jersey. “She’s an expert and she’s done employment and sexual harrassment cases in New Jersey,” though he named no cases. Yosevitz lists no telephone number for her office or residence, and could not be reached. But Yosevitz handled primarily insurance, re-insurance, and commercial and business matters for Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass in New York, where she was an associate from 1991 to 2000, according to a senior partner at the firm. She then joined Rosenberg & Estis, a midtown real estate boutique, to handle real estate litigation, according to Gary Rosenberg, who says she left after about a year. Though she’s been admitted in New Jersey since 1989, she had been declared ineligible three times — twice for not paying her client security fee and once for not complying with the state’s IOLTA rule. She was last reinstated in October 2002. LOWY WEB SITE Lowy also has a Web site that says he heads “Allen M. Lowy, LLC, Attorneys at Law,” described in a “firm profile” as “established in 1983 � a forward-looking [firm] with global business perspectives � offering a full range of highly specialized legal services � [that] represents clients on both the national and international level.” Lowy was admitted in 1983. He lists 14 practice areas, including intellectual property, cyber law and employment law. He also lists 11 “members of the firm,” including Stein and Yosevitz, who, like him, are graduates of the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York. Many of those named attorneys concentrate on the arts and do copyright and trademark work for artists. The firm’s address is his office. But one of the members, Al Daniel Jr. of New York’s Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard, says the affiliation ended years ago and no longer exists, even though Lowy’s latest address is only about a year old. All the lawyers listed practice at other firms or on their own; three are with Cowan DeBaets. Lowy concedes that his firm is actually a loose affiliation of lawyers “who call upon each other’s expertise.” He says the information is current. Lowy was listed in a small firm, Shefet, Hendler & Lowy, with Israeli tax lawyer Joseph Shefet, from 1984 to 1994. Lowy, though, says that was not a firm but an affiliation and that he was the only New York lawyer. Efforts to reach Shefet were unsuccessful. CLOCK IS TICKING Both sides differ as to when the two-year statute of limitations for Law Against Discrimination claims runs out. McGreevey allies say it is about to run out, if it has not already, as Cipel left the state payroll in late August 2002. Lowy, though, says Cipel believes he has a “continuous harassment claim,” which could keep the clock ticking. But Cipel has run out of time for any tort claims, which usually accompany harassment claims, because he never filed a notice of tort claim against the state as required within 90 days of the alleged tort. Asked to elaborate on the continuous harassment, Lowy says Cipel has been subjected to several instances of threats and intimidation. For example, he says, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, N.J., stalked his client even before Lowy left a message on July 23 on an answering machine in the governor’s office saying Cipel intended to sue McGreevey. Lowy says Lesniak was “standing in front of Cipel’s building a week before I made my call, and when I confronted him he said he was going to church, but there are no churches around there.” Lesniak, a McGreevey ally who participated in some of the negotiations, says, “That’s bizarre. When I stay in New York I go up to St. Paul the Apostle Church. Cipel knows who I am, he spotted me walking down the street, and he tells Lowy I’m stalking him.” St. Paul’s Church is on the same corner as the building where Cipel and Lowy live. Says Lesniak, “If he thinks he’s being intimidated, let him file his suit.”

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.