Saturday, August 27, 2005
In less than an hour, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York returned a verdict of guilty against Perry Reich, a Long Island attorney with an extensive litigation practice. Reich was convicted of forgery, obstruction, and lying to government agents in connection with an order in a civil case in which the Magistrate Judge's signature was forged and faxed to Reich's opposing counsel in a case. In a defense that is uncommon in white collar crime cases, Reich denied having anything to do with the forgery or the fax. In most white collar cases, the defendant acknowledges the underlying transaction or documents, and tries to explain why it was not wrongful or that the person lacked the requisite intent. Here, Reich presented a defense seen more in street crime cases: you've got the wrong guy.
For the government, the key piece of evidence was a telephone record showing a call from Reich's office to the adversary's fax machine that lasted three minutes, which was placed at the same time that the fax was sent, at least according to the recorded time on the paper. Reich testified that he called the number by accident and hung up, but apparently the line remained open, and that he had no reason to forge the Magistrate Judge's signature in a case that was going well for his client. An article in the New York Law Journal (available on Law.Com here) discusses the verdict. (ph)