DAVE'S NOT HERE

REPUBLIC REPORTER LOSES JOB AFTER ASSUMING THE IDENTITY OF A PROMINENT ATTORNEY

Veteran Arizona Republic reporter David Schwartz lost his job last month after it was revealed that he impersonated Valley attorney and former appellate judge Bruce Meyerson, allegedly to impress a woman he wanted to date, Meyerson confirmed last week.

Meyerson says, "Obviously, it's outrageous. It's an intrusion into my privacy and my life. He [Schwartz] had no business doing that."

It's a story so bizarre as to rival the tale of Duke Tully, the former Republic and Gazette publisher who resigned a decade ago after admitting he had fabricated a glorious military career for himself.

Schwartz and Republic management refused to comment, but Meyerson and the employer of the woman who Schwartz pursued say Schwartz was fired in connection with the impersonation. The woman--we'll call her Jane--refuses to speak on the advice of her attorney. Jane's employer--we'll call her Helen--agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity.

According to Helen, who is director of a west Valley social-service agency, Schwartz and Jane met months ago at a dinner party. Helen says Schwartz "indicated an interest in her [Jane], and had gotten her telephone number and then began to call her and wanted to date her. At that point and time, [he] did not have any idea where she worked."

According to Meyerson, Schwartz introduced himself to Jane as Bruce Meyerson, an attorney with a Phoenix law firm. Schwartz gave Jane a pager number, telling her that that was the easiest way to reach him rather than at his office.

One day last year, the real Bruce Meyerson received a call at work. It was from Jane.

". . . After having tried to call him on a pager number that he had given her and was not able to reach him--she finally tracked someone named Bruce Meyerson down," Meyerson says.

But the man who answered the phone was not the Bruce Meyerson that Jane had been dating. Together, Meyerson and Jane figured out that Schwartz was the impostor.

Meyerson says he called to inform Republic management of the situation, and that was the extent of his involvement.

According to Helen, once Jane suspected Schwartz, she taped a conversation in which he admitted to the hoax.

Helen says that upon being confronted by his bosses, Schwartz claimed he assumed Meyerson's identity to conduct undercover research for a story he was writing about the agency where Jane worked.

But Helen says, "In no way was there a story pending, was he [Schwartz] gathering information for a story. It has absolutely nothing to do with his employment as a reporter . . . absolutely nothing. It was only after his misrepresentation was discovered that he said that it was job-related. It was not job-related.

"I insisted she [Jane] pursue it [with Republic management], because he [Schwartz] had at some point said, 'Well, I was only trying to do a story on the [agency].' The interesting part is that he didn't even know the name of the [agency]. I think it was just somebody who was pursuing an attractive young lady and decided that, 'Well, maybe I better not give my real name.'"

Helen adds, "She [Jane] was called by the Republic, who wanted specific information before they took any action. So they investigated it and called her [Jane] in, and she brought in tapes that she had and they listened, and she actually went back and gave them the whole scenario of when they met."

On December 15, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chair Betsey Bayless received an unannounced visit from Arizona Republic assistant city editor John D'Anna, who hand-delivered a letter announcing that Schwartz "is no longer employed by the Arizona Republic and has no authority to be at county locations on our behalf."

Schwartz covered a variety of high-profile beats, including Arizona State University, the business community--particularly utilities--and Phoenix City Hall. Most recently, he covered Maricopa County during the baseball-stadium debate and budget crisis.

Meyerson was the founding executive director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. He served on the Arizona Court of Appeals for four years and later as counsel to Arizona State University. He is now with the Phoenix law firm Meyer, Hendricks, Victor, Osborn and Maledon.

The lawyer says he met Schwartz years ago, when Meyerson was counsel for ASU and Schwartz covered the university. "I met him on a number of occasions. I was a person he knew. I was not just a name out of the blue," Meyerson says. Was Meyerson flattered by the thought that his name would be used to lure a young maiden?

After his laughter subsides, Meyerson replies, "I don't know what his choices were."

SCHOOL OF SCANDAL A WHISTLE-BLOWER SAYS ... v1-19-95

 
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