by: Mike Petchenik Updated:
ATLANTA - A Johns Creek concert promoter is suing his former attorneys, including former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, alleging they defrauded him.
The walls of Leonard Rowe’s Johns Creek home are a shrine to the musicians whose concerts he once promoted.
“From Michael Jackson to Whitney Houston to Prince,” he said. “I’ve been in the concert promotion business for 30 some years.”
Rowe told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik he noticed early on, however, that African-American concert promoters weren’t able to work with up and coming white artists, and that eventually successful black artists were only being promoted by white promoters.
“We couldn’t engage in a contract with artists like the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Britney Spears or any white artists,” he said.
In the mid-1990s, Rowe filed a lawsuit against one of the largest talent agencies in the country, alleging racial discrimination.
He said his attorneys uncovered racially-divisive emails written by company executives that he believes would have tipped the scales in his favor before a jury.
“When they returned, it showed the N-word being used 349 times,” he said.
Rowe hired the firm of prominent Florida attorney Willie Gary to represent him, but he claims Gary, Campbell and other lawyers in the firm intentionally withheld the email evidence so they could extort money from the agency instead of going before a jury.
“You know companies such as these cannot allow for that to be made public,” he said. “It would shake up and destroy the entire music industry. But Gary and them knew it also.”
In a federal lawsuit filed this week in Georgia, Rowe alleges a "Pattern of racketeering activity...to defraud” himself and other plaintiffs in the case.
“They have committed one of the biggest sins an attorney can commit, and that is defrauding your clients to enrich yourself,” he said.
Petchenik left a voicemail for Campbell, but as of Wednesday afternoon, had not heard back.
A spokeswoman for the Gary Firm sent Petchenik an email statement:
"Trial attorneys Willie Gary, Lorenzo Williams and Sekou Gary of the Stuart, Florida based law firm of Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson & Gary, P.L.L.C, along with trial attorneys Maria Sperando, C.K. Hoffler and William Campbell are victims of an extortion plot spearheaded by well-known convicted felon, Leonard Rowe. Rowe was a client of the Law Offices of Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson & Gary, P.L.L.C. more than a decade ago."
In recent years, Mr. Rowe has served prison time for fraud and various crimes involving moral turpitude, and as of late, has been the subject of a civil contempt order issued by a federal judge in a different case, for which he served several months in prison. Mr. Rowe’s behavior in that subsequent case further illustrates his recent irrational, defiant and egregious conduct.
Since Gary and his legal team obtained a landmark $23.6 billion verdict on behalf of their client in July 2014, the Firm and its attorneys have been the target of numerous unsubstantiated lawsuits. Leonard Rowe and his associates are the latest in the string of extortion and frivolous conduct.
A recent communication to the Law Offices of Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson and Gary, P.L.L.C., states:
"To Willie Gary et al:
I am sending you this notice as a courtesy, on behalf of my clients, to remind you that unless we receive a positive response to my February 17, 2015 letter…by 7pm this evening our campaign will begin distributing tens of thousands of the following emails to various recipients:
Next week we will begin our media outreach.
We have given each of you, and The Gary Law Firm, the opportunity to address the allegations made against you in the Rowe Case.
“We will not be swayed or motivated by these attempts by Mr. Rowe or his attorneys to extort money or grant meetings to discuss these frivolous allegations,” said Gary.
In light of our ongoing professional duties to Mr. Rowe as his former counsel, we decline to discuss any allegations related to our representation of Mr. Rowe or any information we learned during the course of our representation. We are notifying the appropriate state and federal authorities regarding numerous threatening communications received from Mr. Rowe, conditioned on fulfilling his demands for money."
Rowe told Petchenik he hopes Gary notifies the FBI of his alleged threats and that they investigate, but he said he has nothing to hide.