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White Plains, N.Y., attorney Robert C. Schuster tried to bribe a paralegal at one of New York’s largest law firms to obtain inside information on approaching mergers and acquisitions, federal prosecutors charged Monday. But authorities say the paralegal, who worked at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, turned the tables on Schuster by reporting the bribe attempt and then working as a confidential informant to help snare the attorney. Schuster, 32, allegedly offered the paralegal as much as $15,000 for advance notice of mergers and acquisitions being handled by Skadden. In a complaint unsealed Monday following Schuster’s arrest, prosecutors said the sole practitioner and former assistant district attorney was captured on tape talking to the paralegal and referring to the master stock market manipulator played by actor Michael Douglas in the movie “Wall Street.” “I’m not Gordon Gekko,” Schuster reportedly said, “but … no risk, no reward.” Schuster, a prosecutor with the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office in Auburn from 1996 to 1997, pleaded not guilty to charges of securities fraud, wire fraud and commercial bribery before Southern District Magistrate Judge Michael H. Dolinger. He was released on personal recognizance after he and his wife pledged their home to meet bond of $200,000. The Millwood, N.Y., resident, a 1995 graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, was also accused of violating securities laws in a civil complaint filed Monday by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Coleman said in the complaint and an accompanying news release that Schuster was representing the paralegal on another matter when on Sept. 9, he offered $10,000 — or $15,000 if necessary — for inside information on corporate mergers and acquisitions. The paralegal, who remains unnamed, refused the offer and immediately reported the incident to Skadden management, which then alerted the authorities. However, the paralegal was persuaded to help with the investigation, and draw Schuster into making incriminating statements on the phone and in person. The paralegal also agreed to wear a recording device when meeting Schuster in person to discuss the arrangement. During meetings in October, Schuster was allegedly taped while promising the paralegal a “cut” of his profits should the scheme succeed, adding on one occasion that “the whole strategy has to be to know something before anyone else does.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation had the paralegal give Schuster a fictitious tip about an upcoming takeover of a real company, and according to the complaint, Schuster ran with it, using his account at Fidelity Brokerage Services to buy 3,000 shares of the company for $153,750. He later gave the paralegal a $500 down payment for participating in the scheme. On Oct. 4, the complaint continues, Schuster said he assumed that his “co-conspirator” was not wearing a recording device, stating “I am extremely security conscious … so I will be very, very cautious.” Later, during the same conversation, Schuster muttered the old stockpicker’s adage, “Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.” Thomas Lee represented Schuster at arraignment.

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