TRUE CRIME

12.14.11

Adrian Smith, Stars' Headhunter, Accused of Harassing Lou Reed’s Manager

Adrian Smith made a career out of allegedly finding butlers, housekeepers and office assistants for the likes of Robert DeNiro, Mariah Carey, and George Soros. But now he’s been convicted of harassing and stalking one client and he’s set to be tried for harassing and stalking Lou Reed’s manager.

For the past 20 years, Adrian Smith had one of the most peculiar jobs in Manhattan—so strange it doesn’t really have a name. Call him a headhunter, a finder, or a domestic broker. Better yet, domestic broker to the stars. Whatever he was called, Smith found domestic help for Robert DeNiro. He found nannies, cleaning ladies, butlers, and personal assistants for the likes of Mariah Carey, George Soros, Mort Zuckerman, Tommy Mottola, and Lou Reed.

Not all of his clients were so high profile. One was Tania Higgins, the upper East Side wife of a hedge-fund manager, who began negotiating with Smith in Septemper 2010 to help her find household help. But within days the deal went sour after Higgins declined to hire Smith’s choice of a maid. He was not, to put it mildly, pleased.

“I will have a really great laugh when I see your house crumble. Fuck yourself,” Smith ranted in a voicemail on Sept. 17, 2010, one of dozens of threatening, obscenity-laced calls, emails, and derogatory posts on Craigslist, according to a criminal complaint obtained by The Daily Beast. “I will have my revenge,” he said.

Instead, Higgins took Smith to court and last week he was convicted of nine counts of aggravated harassment and one count of stalking Higgins.

The 50-year-old Smith now sits in a jail cell at the Manhattan Detention Center, facing a year in prison and held without bail while awaiting sentencing on Dec. 20. “He’s disappointed with the results,” says Smith’s attorney, Matthew Galluzzo. “He felt like he was treated unfairly by [the Higginses].” Through a spokesman, Higgins declined to comment to The Daily Beast on the case.

The same day Smith is due to be sentenced, he faces another—and more explosive—trial for harassment and stalking. This one promises to reveal the lurid details of Smith’s alleged threats to rough up the rock musician Lou Reed and his manager, Tommy Sarig, over a commission they allegedly owed him for finding Reed a new assistant.

“I must get paid, or else. I’ll stop at nothing, violence or otherwise, to get my money,” Sarig says Smith yelled at him in a March 9 phone call, according to a criminal complaint obtained by The Daily Beast. “I know you and Lou [Reed] are Jews, and you’re Israeli, you don’t pay in time. It’s widely known that you fucking Jews don’t pay your bills. I won’t let you Jews get away with this. Get me my fucking money, you will pay me my full fee way or another.”

However, Smith says Sarig is the one who threatened him, according to a report in The Village Voice. Smith made a complaint with the Midtown North Detective Squad shortly after the March argument with Sarig, according to the Voice. Smith told the Voice that Sarig threatened to kill him with the help of Israeli assassins. Smith claims to the Voice that Sarig said: “You want your fucking head in a bag? By the time they find you, they’ll be back in Israel having a drink. Keep harassing us for money, you’re a fucking dead man.”

Sarig, a former senior executive at MCA Records, Arista, and A&M, was arrested on harassment charges on March 21, according to the Voice. Soon after Smith filed his complaint against Sarig, Reed paid him the $11,500 fee agreed upon. Yet Smith continued to pursue the case against Sarig. “He threatened my life,” Smith told the Voice. “Why should I drop it? I would also be satisfied if I got an apology.”

When asked about the allegations against him, Smith said that he had ‘a temper and a bad mouth’ but that ‘I’m not a monster.’

He received no apology, and prosecutors believe Sarig’s version of events. The day Sarig was arrested in March, he made a countercomplaint against Smith, that it was Smith who was the harasser. The next day, Smith was arrested, according to the New York Daily News. In April, prosecutors dropped the case against the music honcho. Instead, they slapped Smith with an array of 96 misdemeanor aggravated harassment and stalking charges: 90 threatening calls, emails, and voicemails and six instances of stalking between Feb. 17 and March 9, according to the criminal complaint obtained by The Daily Beast.

But what about Sarig? Why wasn’t he prosecuted? Were his alleged threats non-existent? “[Sarig’s case] was dismissed, sealed, and we have no further comment on it,” a spokeswoman for the Manhattan D.A.’s office told The Daily Beast. Adds Smith attorney, Galluzzo: “I guess they believe the other guy and they don’t believe Adrian.”

Originally from the North of England, Smith emerged from a brutal childhood of “football and fighting,” he told The Times of London. In college, Smith studied engineering, according to his attorney. When asked about the allegations against him, Smith told The Times that he had “a temper and a bad mouth” but that “I’m not a monster.”

He indeed does have a seemingly charitiable side. In 2003, he founded a nonprofit called The Scotty and Bunny Children’s Foundation, for the “donation of monetary gifts for welfare of children,” according to an IRS filing. (Calls to the number listed for the charity found a disconnected number, and an Internet search yielded no website.) “I think he has a lot of good qualities, he’s a smart guy with a sense of humor,” says Galluzzo.  “I’ve gotten to know him well, I think he’s remorseful, he feels ashamed for the way he’s behaved, I don’t think he’s without a conscious. He’s helped a lot of people find the help they wanted and a lot of people get jobs.”

On Smith’s twitter account—@whitby61—he’ll tweet about the plight of domestic help and the alleged discrimination they face from employers. But interspersed with those—as well as short movie reviews—he’s shot off a slew of seemingly delusional rants against Sarig and Reed, the Manhattan district attorney’s office, and a list of prominent New Yorkers. “ISRAEL: Do you allow ‘hit men’ to fly into NYC for Lou Reed and his Manager, kill, then fly back safely to Israel, without prosecution ?” he tweeted on August 29th. (Queries to Sarig and Reed were not returned. The D.A.’s office declined to offer a response to Smith’s taunts because the case is open.)

Surely, after serving the elite of New York for two decades, there must be some reason for Smith’s recent outbursts, behavior that surely won’t land him any more word-of-mouth recommendations from his rich clientele. “He felt like he was treated unfairly, so there was some basis for him being upset, and it sounds like he lost his temper,” says Galluzzo. “Times are tough lately and business is tough, people get a little more stressed about getting paid. It’s not easy being self employed. It’s a sad result all around.”