North Shore Towers tenant sued by manager over libel

By Peter A. Sutters Jr.

Glen Kotowski, a former deputy inspector at the 105th Precinct, is now the general manager of the North Shore Towers and has been a frequent target in Fred Hadley's North Shore Towers Free Speech Committee newsletter. Hadley has lived in a rent-stabilized apartment at North Shore Towers for 28 years. The suit claims Hadley, on several occasions, gave speeches and distributed materials through his newsletter that “were both slanderous as well as libelous, per se, in that they accuse the plaintiff of a crime. In addition, the claims affected his ability in his employment, and otherwise caused embarrassment.”The suit seeks $250,000 in compensatory damages, $250,000 in punitive damages and $1 in nominal damages.Attached to the suit are six documents sent out by Hadley in his newsletter, which he said has around 300 people on its mailing list, including Kotowski. The suit does not mention specifics in each of the attached documents, only contending each is slanderous and libelous.Hadley, a self-proclaimed activist and free speech defender, said he was not totally caught off guard by the suit.”I was surprised, but not totally surprised,” said Hadley. Kotowski could not be reached for comment because he was on vacation and his lawyers declined to comment. Hadley said he drew on his experiences as a Vietnam anti-war protestor to expose Kotowski's tactics and the lawsuit is proof that his methods are working.”The first job of an activist is to be recognized,” said Hadley. “You have to throw out bait and make the other person react. This is validation of all my work.”The feud between the two began after Kotowski decided not to renew Hadley's contract with North Shore Towers for video taping various events and meetings at the complex and showing them on the in-house television channel. Hadley was employed for three years in this capacity, before Kotowski decided not to renew his $30,000-a-year contract, according to Hadley and the lawsuit.Hadley said his contract was not renewed because he did not want to censor meetings at which residents made claims that showed North Shore Towers and the management in a negative light as well as a conflict he had with Kotowski over seeking membership with an off-site health club.Calls placed to Charles H. Greenthal & Company, the management company and Kotowski's employer, were not returned. Hadley made a speech at a May 2004 co-op meeting about possible wiretapping at the Towers shortly after Kotowski was hired in the months following the Sept. 11 attacks and interviewed an electronics technician at the complex about tracing a phone line .A copy of the speech was sent out by Hadley the following day through his Internet newsletter and is included in Kotowski's lawsuit.Hadley said in both the speech and newsletter he stated that all of his claims were only allegations.Another newsletter included in the suit deals with the aftermath of a fire that broke out at North Shore Towers in December and alleged fire code violations that Hadley contended he had found.Hadley, who now works as a theater projectionist, has asked for donations from people who get his newsletter in order to fund his defense and said he has received $1,000 thus far.He said he thinks the suit was filed in order to stifle his free speech newsletter, but he has no plans to stop any time soon.”I have to defend myself,” said Hadley. “By their overreaction I hope to bring them down.” Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by Phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 173.

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