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New York attorney Perry S. Reich — whose clients have ranged from convicted murderer Joel Steinberg, who was paroled this week, to the placid Village of Atlantic Beach — has been indicted on federal charges of forging a judge’s order, obstruction of justice and lying to federal investigators. The four-count indictment was unsealed Tuesday by Eastern District U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf. Reich, 55, was arraigned Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marilyn Go. Reich pleaded not guilty and was released. He is due back in court before U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on July 14 for a status conference. Should he fail to return, he would be liable for a $50,000 penalty, his attorney said. If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. “Perry Reich intentionally obstructed an official court proceeding by forging the signature of a United States Magistrate Judge,” Mauskopf said in a statement. She added, “As an attorney admitted to the bar of this state, Reich took an oath to uphold the law. The violation of that oath makes the crimes charged all the more reprehensible. Through this prosecution, the defendant will be held accountable for his conduct.” In a telephone interview, Reich’s lawyer, Stephen R. Mahler, said he told the court the indictment was “the most chilling thing that I ever saw.” He later called the government’s case “absurd … especially against an attorney.” Lawyers who knew Reich and dealt with him in connection with the underlying matter expressed shock at news of the indictment. According to the government’s complaint, Reich was a defendant in the matter of Ryan Beck & Co. v. Fakih, No. 02-cv-04052, a securities case filed in the Eastern District by Manhattan attorney Joel E. Davidson and assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann. The plaintiff, a stock brokerage firm, had sued to prevent Reich and three other defendants from pursuing arbitration in connection with stock trading losses. In June 2003, Reich allegedly drew up, signed and faxed to other attorneys in the case an order purporting to be from Magistrate Judge Mann, in which she recalled and vacated previous orders denying a preliminary injunction, enjoined the parties from proceeding with an arbitration hearing and recused herself from further proceedings in the case. The Ryan Beck case has since been settled. The terms are confidential, a lawyer for one of the other defendants said. The plaintiff’s lawyer could not be reached for comment. According to federal authorities, the falsified faxed court order was traced back to Reich’s home. Called to a meeting with federal prosecutors, Reich denied the allegations, Mahler said. He was later arrested by FBI agents. He has been charged with obstructing the Ryan Beck suit, obstructing the FBI’s investigation into the forged order, forging a federal judge’s signature and with lying to federal investigators. Mahler complained that the meeting with prosecutors at which his client proclaimed his innocence yielded an obstruction charge. “If that’s going to be the policy” in the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mahler said, “then lawyers would be advised to tell their clients not to discuss the case.” “If you deny your guilt, you’re going to be indicted,” he said. Mahler also denied that his client had a fax machine in his home, contending if he did, federal prosecutors would have seized it. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to address Mahler’s comments. BIZARRE DEVELOPMENT Manhattan attorney Jacob Zamansky of Zamansky & Associates, who represented one of the defendants in the Ryan Beck matter, said of the creation of a false document, “It was probably one of the most bizarre legal things I’ve ever seen in my life. I couldn’t imagine who would do such a thing.” Why anyone would do this is “beyond comprehension,” said Zamansky. “I don’t see [Reich] as having anything to gain from this.” Stuart D. Meissner, a securities attorney with his own firm, represented another defendant in Ryan Beck. Asked why Reich, or anyone, would attempt to falsify a court order, he said, “I have no idea. Frankly, I am surprised. I am shocked.” Meissner added, “Reich seemed very knowledgeable in the law, normal, a very qualified attorney. That’s why I’m so surprised. But this is just an indictment. Everyone’s entitled to a presumption of innocence. I hope this works out for him.” Reich was represented in the Ryan Beck matter by Christopher Bebel, a partner in the Houston firm of Sacks Bebel & Boll. Bebel said that when the false order first surfaced, “Perry Reich was not even on the radar screen.” He added, “I’ve always held Perry Reich in high regard, and still, to this day, do so. He’s always been an absolutely stellar person, a quintessential gentleman.” Bebel said he believed that Reich would be exonerated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Katz is lead prosecutor for the government. Reich is a partner in the firm of Schapiro & Reich. According to his biography on the firm’s Web site, he was principal law assistant to former state Court of Appeals Judge Vito J. Titone and clerked for Court of Appeals Judge Jacob D. Fuchsberg. From 1990 to 1998, he was acting village justice for the Village of Lindenhurst. Before that, for two years he was chief assistant town attorney for the Town of Babylon. A member of the New York, California, and Florida bars, he has taught at New York Law School, Cardozo Law School, and Touro School of Law. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in 1999, Reich ran as a Republican for justice of the Supreme Court for Queens County, and in 2002, he ran on the Conservative Party ticket to represent the 5th Congressional District of New York in the U.S. House of Representatives. His partner, Steven M. Schapiro, did not return a call seeking comment.

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