Emmy award-winning reporter Jonathan Dienst is NBC 4 New York’s chief investigative reporter and is an NBC News contributing correspondent. Dienst leads NBC New York’s investigative unit focusing on breaking major stories on topics ranging from terrorism to political corruption, corporate scandals to NYPD crime stories.
Dienst’s exclusive reporting can be seen on NBC 4 New York’s newscasts and NBCNewYork.com. He also files stories for The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, CNBC and has appeared on Dateline.
Dienst’s exclusive reporting on terror and security stories has received local and national acclaim. Dienst’s firsts include: breaking news in 2013 of plots to bomb New York’s Federal Reserve Bank; the 2013 targeting of trains leaving Penn Station for Canada; the 2011 security threat to the 10th Anniversary of 9-11 that put New York on high alert; the 2010 Times Square bomb plot and arrest of suspect Faisal Shazad; arrests in the 2009 Zazi subway bomb plot; the “Newburgh 4” arrests in a conspiracy to hit Synagogues in the Bronx; a 2007 plan to bomb Fort Dix; the 2006 terror plot to bomb fuel lines at JFK; the 2004 Herald Square subway bomb plot; the 2003 New Jersey “missile-man” FBI sting, among others. Dienst worked to help lead WNBC’s coverage of the investigation into the 9-11 terror attacks, the anthrax attacks and the crash of American Airlines flight 587in the Rockaways in 2001. He also broke and reported key developments for NBC in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings investigation as well as the 2005 London bombings.
His reporting on corruption cases in New York and New Jersey has also made national headlines.
In 2013, Dienst led WNBC’s coverage of ethics troubles surrounding New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. In October 2002, WNBC ran a 40-minute commercial free report investigating alleged wrongdoing by New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli. The report included new evidence and video that raised troubling questions about the Senator's relationship with a convicted fundraiser. In addition, Dienst and NBC New York's legal team helped lead the fight to unseal court papers about Torricelli's ties to Chang. Senator Torricelli announced he was dropping out of the race four days after WNBC's report aired. One Washington Post column credited Dienst reporting out one of the top corruption-related stories in recent history. In 2009, Dienst was first to report on the biggest corruption round-up in New Jersey history where the FBI arrested dozens of politicians and rabbis on bribery and money laundering charges.
Dienst was first to report that two former NYPD detectives were arrested for being "Mafia Cops" and NBC New York's cameras were the only ones in place the day the arrests happened. Dienst also broke the story that attorney general candidate Jeanine Pirro allegedly tried to hire former NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik to spy on her husband because she suspected her husband was having an affair with another woman on their boat. Dienst also broke many stories about the rise and fall of Kerik -- a hero throughout the 9/11 crisis who was later to be convicted for accepting cash and gifts while a city official.
In his three decades covering New York, Dienst has also broken corruption stories in Albany, at New York’s City Hall and in the courts including being first to report on a streak of judicial corruption in Brooklyn, breaking the story of the arrest of then Judge Victor Barron.
On local crime, Dienst often helps lead NBC 4 New York’s coverage and break important news. The Newtown school shooting shocked the nation and Dienst worked around the clock – obtaining first images of the shooter. In the shooting outside the Empire State Building in 2012, he again was first in identifying the suspect and reporting that the incident was domestic, not terror. In 2012, he broke major news again - that an arrest had been made in the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz and that NYPD officials said there was a confession.
In 2011, NBC 4 New York was first to report missing 6 year-old child Leiby Kletzky had been found murdered – a killing that had shocked the city. Dienst also broke major news when a suspect was arrested in the brutal 2006 death of John Jay College student Immette St. Guillen. He also broke news on the arrest of a suspect in the death of the Upper East Side dancer Catherine Woods, and once again NBC New York's cameras were the only ones in place when the suspect was arrested.
He was also first to report the 2006 small plane crash on the Upper East Side was likely an accident, not terrorism, breaking the news that the plane belonged to Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle.
In the 2007 Virginia Tech Shooting Case, Dienst was first to report that the shooter sent his manifesto to NBC News Headquarters in New York. Other firsts include the capture of millionaire fugitive Robert Durst, the arrest of former NBA star Jayson Williams and many New York area Mafia round-ups.
Dienst has reported extensively on allegations of corruption on Wall Street, breaking news on many of the nation's biggest white-collar crime stories. On December 11, 2008, NBCNewYork.com quickly posted news that the FBI had arrested a broker named Bernie Madoff in connection with a huge Ponzi scheme. Only later would the world realize the scheme would total more than $60 billion dollars. Dienst covered many insider trading arrests in recent years including charges filed in New York against hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam. Past reporting included breaking news that WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers would face criminal charges. At the time, it was the largest corporate fraud case in U.S. history. Dienst also alerted CNBC viewers to the arrest of Imclone CEO Sam Waksal and his later guilty plea. Dienst was also first to report about the Justice Department's "strong criminal case" against Martha Stewart and that criminal charges were going to be filed.
Dienst was first to report the CEO of Comverse Technologies fled the country rather than face criminal charges. Dienst also tracked down the fugitive CEO of Symbol Technologies. The accused white-collar crook allegedly stole millions and fled the U.S. when he learned he was going to be indicted. Dienst and his cameras found the "Millionaire on the Run" hiding in an ocean front villa in Sweden out of reach of U.S. law enforcement.
Prior to NBC 4 New York, Dienst worked at WPIX/Channel 11 News from 1996-2001. In addition to covering police and the courts, Dienst also covered politics, national and international news for the station. While there he helped spearhead coverage of the crash of TWA Flight 800 and also covered the police brutality case of Abner Louima. He got the first interview with Newshawn Williams, the so-called "AIDS man" who in the interview admitted for the first time of possibly infecting many more women with the HIV virus than initially feared.
Before WPIX, Dienst was a member of the staff that helped launch New York 1 News in 1992. At NY1 he helped lead the station's coverage of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the Sheik Terror Plot.
Dienst also worked as a reporter for NBC affiliate WSAV-TV in Savannah, Georgia where he reported on the city's skyrocketing murder rate and several police corruption scandals. Dienst has also written articles for Newsday, the New York Post, and worked behind the scenes at Fox 5 News in New York.
Dienst works with producer Joseph Valiquette who is a lawyer and former FBI official who spent 30 years with the FBI. He was one of the original members of New York's Joint Terrorism Task Force. He now helps oversee NBC 4 New York's coverage of federal cases and special investigations.
Dienst is the recipient of numerous awards including: Deadline, Emmys, the New York Press Club Gold Typewriter, Associated Press/NY State Broadcasters, Edward R. Murrow, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Long Island Press Club, and the “Daniel Pearl Journalism Leader Eagle Award” from the Respect of Law Alliance, Inc., among others. Dienst served on the board of the New York Press Club and for a time with the New York local of the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists.
Dienst is a graduate of Colgate University and received a Master's Degree in Journalism from Columbia University.