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Threats led to criminal charges
Nancy Isles Nation

Telecommunications entrepreneur Michael David Kowitz spent three years taunting his ex-wife and her mother with crank phone calls and e-mails, a Marin district attorney's investigator testified Friday.

In a preliminary hearing for Kowitz, 41, of Saratoga, Michael McBride said the two women found the alleged harrassment overwhelming. The ex-wife moved from Tiburon to her parents' home in Jonesboro, Ark., and then took a job in Connecticut to esape from the threats, McBride said.

The mother and her husband had alarms and motion detectors installed at their home. The harassment escalated in April 2004 at about the time of the anniversary of Kowitz's divorce from his wife, McBride said. The couple had been married for 18 months.

Prosecutors said they believe Kowitz used his telecommunications expertise to change caller identification numbers and hacked into e-mail addresses to deceive the two women about the origin of his messages. At one point, the ex-wife received a phone call with the caller ID number of the man she was dating at the time. When she answered the phone, she heard a recording of a man saying a vulgar epithet repeatedly.

On the same day in April 2004, the mother's telephone rang at 2 a.m., and the caller ID number registered her daughter's number. The mother answered the phone and heard a woman screaming on the other end, McBride said. The mother called Tiburon police and asked them to make a welfare check.

Police found the ex-wife at home. She had been sleeping and had not called her mother.

The mother traveled to the Bay Area shortly afterward and stayed with her daughter in Tiburon. After they received a phone call saying they were going to have a bad accident, the two women secured the ex-wife's apartment with alarms


and armed themselves with pepper spray.

"They both felt that they were being watched," McBride said. "They perceived it as a threat." On April 15, 2004, the women got a temporary restraining order to keep Kowitz away.

When the mother returned home to Arkansas, the ex-wife spent a week at the Holiday Inn Express in Mill Valley because of her fears of Kowitz, McBride testified.

In May 2004, the mother began getting telephone calls and e-mails from men who were strangers, asking to arrange sexual liaisons, McBride said. He added that someone had listed her on an adult Web dating service.

While the ex-wife was visiting her parents in June 2004, they began to get telephone calls from local funeral homes and hotels. "They felt like they were going to die," McBride said.

Kowitz was charged in Marin Superior Court in December 2004 with 12 felony counts and six misdemeanors, including stalking, identity theft, unauthorized use or reproduction of data, false imprisonment, criminal threats and disobeying a court order.

Proceedings were suspended in March 2005 because of doubts about Kowitz's mental competency.

In April 2005, Kowitz was found incompetent to stand trial; in June, he was committed to the state mental hospital in Napa. He returned to the Marin court system in December.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Terrence Boren will deterimine whether the prosecution has presented enough evidence to hold Kowitz to stand trial.


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