State Bar Association Vice-president Pleads Guilty to Courthouse Bribery Scheme
Defendant Admits Filing False Affidavit in Federal District Court
ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and PASQUALE J. D'AMURO, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York, today announced that EDWARD REICH, a vice-president of the New York State Bar Association, and a former president of the Brooklyn Bar Association and chairman of its Judicial Screening Committee, pleaded guilty this morning to conspiracy to accept bribes in his capacity as a court-appointed referee of foreclosure sales at the Brooklyn Courthouse of the New York State Supreme Court.
The guilty plea proceedings were held before United States District Judge John Gleeson at the United States Courthouse in Brooklyn. Under the terms of the plea agreement, REICH faces up to five years' imprisonment, a maximum fine of $250,000, and the payment of $10,500 in restitution.
REICH stated during the plea proceedings that in 2002 and 2003, he accepted five separate cash bribes in his capacity as a court-appointed referee at the sales of three foreclosed properties in public auctions that he conducted on the steps of the Brooklyn Courthouse of the New York State Supreme Court. REICH admitted that in exchange for two $2,000 bribes, he lowered the purchase price of two properties by a total of $65,000 from their winning bids at auction. He also admitted that in exchange for the third payment of $500, he called a law firm representing the bank that held the mortgage on one of the properties and requested an adjournment of the winning bidder's closing. REICH admitted that in exchange for a fourth payment of $1,000, he permitted purchasers to proceed with their purchases even though they did not pay him the required ten percent deposit. Finally, REICH admitted that in exchange for a fifth payment of $5,000, he called the aforementioned law firm, falsely informed them that he had not received any deposit money, and then attempted to persuade the law firm that they should re-auction the property without pursuing the purchasers in civil litigation.
In addition, REICH admitting filing an affidavit with the United States District Court during pre-trial proceedings that contained materially false information and agreed that his sentence should reflect this obstruction of justice.
REICH is a former director of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, a former member of the American Bar Association's House of Delegates, and a former member of the New York State Grievance Committee for the Second and Eleventh Judicial Districts.
"Today's guilty plea established that no one can hold himself above the law, regardless of his position within the bar," stated United States Attorney MAUSKOPF. "When Edward Reich was a court-appointed referee, he did not merely sell foreclosed properties, he sold out justice itself. We will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute courthouse corruption."
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge D'AMURO stated, "A court-appointed referee entrusted to act impartially in foreclosure auctions was essentially willing to put his integrity on the auction block to line his pockets. For participants in the court system to have faith in its fundamental fairness, we must -- and we will -- be vigorous in rooting out corruption."
REICH'S sentencing has been scheduled for June 24, 2005.
The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Steven H. Breslow and Jeffrey Rabkin.
EDWARD S. REICH
Address: 155 West 68th Street, New York, New York
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