Judd Bernstein walks with his client Andrea Tantaros, a former Fox News host, who is suing former network CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment, Wednesday in Manhattan Civil Supreme Court.
The office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is conducting an investigation relating to possible violations of federal law at Fox News, an attorney alleged in court today Wednesday.
Attorney Judd Burstein — who is representing former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros in a suit against the network and its ex-chairman Roger Ailes — said one of his other clients received a subpoena Monday to testify before a federal grand jury.
“I was told by the U.S. Attorney’s office there is an ongoing criminal investigation, relating to these allegations, all of these allegations,” Burstein said, referring to the avalanche of sexual harassment claims that resulted in Ailes’ departure from the network he built.
The subpoena noted “alleged violations of criminal law by Fox,” Burstein said. He said the securities unit was leading the investigation.
Fox News chairman Roger Ailes is the target of a $30 million lawsuit from former employee Andrea Tantaros.
Burstein added that in light of the criminal investigation, he believed Tantaros could sue the network for extortion and racketeering. He declined to reveal any details regarding his other client who had received the subpoena. He expected Tantaros would receive one, as well.
An attorney for Fox News, Andrew Levander, said the network had not received a subpoena and would cooperate with one.
Burstein suspected that the federal investigation revolved around Fox News’ settlement offers in arbitration to employees making claims of sexual harassment. Such payouts are not disclosed in Fox’s SEC filings, Burstein said, leading him to suspect that could be a violation of federal securities law.
Tantaros, who joined Fox’s "The Five" in 2011, said Ailes began harassing her in August 2014 when he allegedly asked her to “twirl” during a private meeting in his office so she could show off her figure.
The bombshell revelation came during a hearing in which Justice David Cohen said Tantaros must litigate her claims against Fox in arbitration, rather than in court.
The former host had sued Fox and Ailes for $30 million charging the network honcho ran “a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult” where sexual harassment was rampant.
Tantaros, who joined Fox’s "The Five" in 2011, said Ailes began harassing her in August 2014 when he allegedly asked her to “twirl” during a private meeting in his office so she could show off her figure. He also interrogated her about her personal life and “made off-color jokes about getting married,” according to the suit.
The subpoena “alleged violation of criminal law by Fox,” lawyer Judd Burstein said.
Both Fox News and Ailes have denied any wrongdoing. In court filings responding to her suit, Fox News lashed out at Tantaros, saying she “is not a victim; she is an opportunist.”
Tantaros is one of numerous women who have come forward with similar accusations against Ailes, who stepped down last year after Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against him.
Burstein said he would file a new lawsuit against Fox and Ailes in Manhattan Federal Court alleging unlawful surveillance of her personal communications, as well as other charges. Ailes was said to have spied on employees.
A spokeswoman for Bharara declined to comment.