DA: Dominic Barbara pleads not guilty in extortion try
Former celebrity attorney Dominic Barbara's acrimonious relationship with his most recent ex-wife escalated Tuesday when he was arrested and charged with harassing, stalking and trying to extort $200,000 from her.
This is the second time in three months that Barbara, 67, has been arrested in connection with Leslie Barbara, 48, a Garden City attorney. In September, he was charged with contempt for violating a court order to not contact her. Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty to fourth-degree attempted grand larceny, two counts of second-degree aggravated harassment and two counts of fourth-degree stalking, all misdemeanors.
In 2008, she was charged with menacing after he said she threw a plate of spaghetti at his head. The charge was eventually withdrawn at his request.
Since then, Barbara has lost his powerhouse law practice, several homes, cars, an opulent lifestyle and, he said Tuesday in court, 144 of his former 330 pounds.
"My ex-wife and I have been the shame of this court," Barbara said to Nassau District Court Judge Valerie Alexander, as he asked her to let him go free without bail while representing himself. "I have nothing to do with this woman."
But Assistant District Attorney Theresa Tebbett said Barbara has had too much to do with her. From March to September, she said Barbara texted and called her, asking first for $10,000 and later for $200,000. He threatened to expose sexual relationships, disclose compromising photos and videos, and name the numerous men he claimed she has slept with, prosecutors said.
"These are serious allegations," Tebbett said. She said Barbara's ties to the community are now "tenuous at best. He doesn't have a permanent residence." Barbara has been living with a friend in Old Westbury for the past several weeks.
Tebbett asked for bail of $20,000 cash, but Alexander allowed Barbara to go free. Before his arraignment, he complained briefly of being lightheaded because he hadn't eaten all day, but after a brief rest he said he was fine.
Barbara said the charges are backward.
"She stalked me," he said. "My car has had its glass broken with a brick."
Leslie Barbara did not respond to requests for comment.
Outside court, Barbara said, "I forgive her. I pray for her."
Barbara said he still hopes to regain his law license, which was suspended in 2010 because of billing irregularities. He also hopes to make it rich again by marketing a diet pill he says he helped develop.