Shut Your Mouth

Big-Bucks Bloomy buys corporate silence in six sex and race cases

Bloomberg made his first political speech at a GOP event on February 14, just as Patterson's deadline expired, and hired media whiz David Garth, who'd elected Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani, the same day Patterson dismissed the case. Bloomberg took a leave from his company to run two weeks later. Had Mair filed for and won the vacate order, the case would've gone forward throughout the mayoral campaign, highlighting revelations that Bloomberg's company had conducted a lengthy investigation of Olszewski's sex life while simultaneously launching a joint defense with the accused rapist and even getting him a lawyer. The absence of any sex harassment procedures at the company until after the Garrison and Olszewski cases were filed would've added to the political embarrassment.

While the company denies it paid any settlement to Olszewski, the testimony of one Bloomberg-tied attorney in a related 2002 disciplinary proceeding was carefully parsed to leave open the possibility that Bloomberg, or an entity acting in his name, settled it. The Bloomberg campaign declined to answer questions about it.

Alan Feltoon: The best evidence that Olszewski won a bonanza was that Feltoon, who wound up settling two suits involving Bloomberg L.P., dropped the lawyers who'd been representing him for two years and hired Mair a month after the Voice story about his handling of the Olszewski case appeared. An architectural contractor who did major work for Bloomberg for five years, Feltoon was fighting a Bloomberg lawsuit charging that he'd defrauded the company. Soon after Feltoon switched to Mair in November 2001, the federal judge in the case ordered a deposition of Bloomberg for January 11, 2002, just days after he was inaugurated.

A few hours before the scheduled deposition, Bloomberg L.P. settled the case on terms both parties refused to reveal. Then, in September 2002, Mair resurrected the issues by suing another Bloomberg architectural firm, contending that it had conspired with the mayor's company to illegally copy millions of dollars' worth of Feltoon's work. While Bloomberg L.P. wasn't named in the second suit, a New York Observer story cited experts and evidence predicting that Bloomberg would again face the witness stand. The Observer reported that Bloomberg's company was not named because the settlement of the earlier case barred Mair and Feltoon from suing it directly. Feltoon recently e-mailed the Voice that he "settled" this case in late 2003 "and was satisfied with the resolution," refusing to spell out the details.

Pointing to the damaging impact of Bloomberg's testimony in the rape case, news stories in 2002 noted that "a deposition of Bloomberg would seek to lay bare in intricate detail the inner workings of the top echelons" of his company. The stories added that he might also have been asked about the sexual harassment charges of a former employee sued in the same case, Diane Winger, who claimed that Bloomberg had made explicit comments about her body and encouraged her to spend time alone with him. Winger's husband, Joseph Menno, another Bloomberg executive named in the civil suit, wound up pleading guilty to criminal charges of defrauding the company.

However, testimony in the Olszewski case, available to Mair, revealed that Winger was fired after she filed her harassment complaint and that Bloomberg then personally ordered the internal probe of Menno's work that eventually led to his prosecution. When Menno pled guilty, Bloomberg L.P. settled its suit against him and Winger.

Susan Friedlander Calzone: The witness whose Olszewski deposition detailed the sequence of events in the Winger case, Calzone was one of the highest-ranking female executives at Bloomberg L.P. for years, in charge of administration. By her own testimony, she orchestrated the company's handling of these three and other sexual harassment cases, personally participating in the initial debriefing of Olszewski's alleged rapist and managing the corporate handling of Garrison and Winger. She testified about Olszewski wearing "a sheer white blouse without a bra" to work, stated that she had "no reason not to believe" the executive charged with raping Olszewski, and offered an extraordinary account of the voice mail message she heard Bloomberg leave for Garrison: "He may have said sorry. I can't remember the words. You know, blah, blah, blah, blah, come see me." Ironically, Bloomberg's campaign spokesman Stu Loeser says that Calzone is now in charge of Women for Bloomberg, which has hosted several highly successful events for the mayor in 2005. Yet two sources told the Voice that Calzone herself went to a lawyer to discuss a possible suit against Bloomberg L.P., charging that when she returned to the company after a maternity leave in 2001, she was displaced by a male executive and not given her full portfolio of responsibilities. Since Bloomberg was on leave and only intermittently involved with the company in 2001, his role in these decisions is unclear.

Calzone did not sue, worked for months at campaign headquarters, and was then seen repeatedly at City Hall, sparking news stories that she might become a deputy mayor. She was even paid $9,000 by Bloomberg's committee in December 2001 to help with the transition. Instead, she returned to the company and remained there until early this year, when news stories again noted that she was leaving it to join the campaign.

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