This story has been updated.
Unpaid $5k fee for Feb. 2010 photographs, at issue in district court
By Roger Bianchini, Warren County Report
and Dan McDermott, The Lynchburg Times and MyLynchburg.net
[This story was first reported in The Lynchburg Times.]
[CLARIFICATION: Dylan Howard attorney Eryk Gabhran Boston told Roger Bianchini Friday that they are not contending that the apartment number was purposefully left off the summons but rather was due to a clerical error.]
On Friday, Jan 7, one half of Warren County’s most famous alleged White House gatecrasher and Reality TV couple is due back in a Warren County Courtroom on an appeal of a $5,000 civil claim he won against an executive at a national celebrity gossip website.
On September 3rd in Warren County General District Court Tareq Salahi received a default judgment of $5,000 against Dylan Howard. Salahi claims Howard never paid him an agreed upon $5,000 fee for photographs taken of Salahi and his wife Michaele the weekend of February 20th at the Salahi’s private residence in Warren County.
Howard is Senior Executive Editor for RadarOnline.com. Radar Online was bought by American Media several years ago. American Media owns national tabloids The Star, The Globe and National Enquirer. According to Wikipedia Howard has appeared on a wide range of television and radio programs as a news expert. Included on that list are Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, CNN, Fox News, HLN, CBS News, ABC’s Nightline, Good Morning America, MSNBC, Inside Edition, the BBC, Britain’s Sky News and HLN’s prime-time program “Issues With Jane Valez Mitchell”
Howard, whose address in court documents is listed as 55 Wall Street in New York City, is seeking to have the judgment against him voided and money taken as a result of a subsequent garnishment issued Sept. 27th returned. Court records indicate Howard claims Tareq Salahi knew his apartment number but withheld it from the affidavit so that he could not be successfully served. The result was that Howard says he was unaware of the claim or court date and did not appear or have representation in Warren County General District Court in September to tell his side of the story. The defendant’s New York City address is described in his appeal of the judgment as a huge apartment complex with hundreds of units.
A $5,000 invoice from Tareq Salahi for “Celebrity Photography for 3 hours” in the case file contains the notation “Originally sent: April 30, 2010” and “Resent: May 20, June 21 & June 29, 2010.” That invoice is addressed to: Dylan Howard, 55 Wall Street, Apt. 824, New York, NY 10005-2826.
At stake in the Jan. 7 hearing scheduled before Judge W. Dale Houff is a total of $5,451 in allegedly unpaid fees, interest and court costs. Tareq Salahi is represented in the matter by Manassas-based, local attorney David Silek.
The case file includes an alleged e-mail exchange between Salahi and Howard dated Feb. 16-18-19 indicating the Salahis’ agreement to do the photo shoot the coming weekend.
“Michaele and Tareq, How is everything looking for the photo shoot I want to do? My offer of $5,000.00 is firm and hope we can do more after this. How is your schedule the next two weeks?” Howard e-mailed the Salahis on Feb. 16 according to court records.
“Dylan, my wife & I have agreed. Please confirm. We are free this weekend,” Tareq Salahi replied on Feb. 18.
On Friday, Feb. 19, again according to court records, Howard e-mailed the couple to confirm, stating he would take photos of the couple together and separately, adding, “I will pay you $5,000 for the photos. In addition, if you allow me to take video of you two, Radar Online may also be interested in purchasing that for an additional $5,000 or $10,000 …”
Howard allegedly concludes this final “pre-shoot” e-mail by alerting Tareq that he “will also need to ask some questions of you about playing polo with Prince Charles & Prince Harry. You had some interesting anecdotes, from memory, about Harry.” The references are to Charles, Queen Elizabeth’s son and heir to the British throne and his and the late Princess Diana’s youngest son Harry.
Reached late Wed., a spokesperson for Wide Eye Communications provided The Lynchburg Times with the following statement:
“In a publicity stunt aimed solely at garnering media attention, the Salahis, whose notorious history speaks for itself, recently named WIDE EYE and its principal Dylan Howard as defendants in a frivolous lawsuit.
“There is absolutely no merit to the Salahi’s claims.
“We look forward to vigorously defending ourselves in a court of law and speaking with the Commonwealth of Virginia and law enforcement to expose yet another fraudulent act perpetrated by these individuals, in this instance, the creation of fictitious e-mails.”
Responding just prior to press run, Salahi attorney David Silek said the following:
“The Salahis are once again the subject of a baseless attack. First, Wide Eye’s assertion that it is a defendant in this matter is simply false. So inquiry must begin with that false assertion. Second, if service did not get to Mr. Howard, fine. So be it. His attorney failed to enter a special appearance and rather entered what is known as a general appearance in this matter and has given our Court jurisdiction over Mr. Howard. Now that Mr. Salahi has counsel in this matter, any procedural difficulties will be corrected. We look forward to setting this case down for hearing and a trial on the merits. We are certainly glad that Mr. Howard elected to make a general appearance and give our court in personum jurisdiction over him, which was lacking as he was served by the secretary of the Commonwealth.
“Third, Mr. Howard came to VA to take pictures of the Salahi’s and then I assume sold the pictures to someone. It is a shame that he now refuses to honor his obligations.”
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