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N.Y. Attorney Must Repay Pension from 5 School District Jobs

Posted Mar 7, 2008 8:32 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A New York lawyer who was reported simultaneously as an employee of five Long Island school districts must repay the state pension he is getting as a result of this claimed employment, the state comptroller says.

In an opinion released today, Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli says Lawrence Reich, who reportedly acted as legal counsel for the five districts, was actually an independent contractor misclassified as an employee in recent years, according to Newsday. Hence, he was not entitled to at least some of the state pension he has been receiving since 2006.

The ruling "was based on findings that school officials did not supervise or control how Reich performed his work at the districts, that none of them provided him with an office or work materials, and that he had no set hours or time sheets," the newspaper writes. "Those standards are among the ones used by the Internal Revenue Service to determine whether someone is an employee or independent contractor."

A lawyer for Reich says in a press release that he is entitled to a pension for his work at the state Education Department between 1967 and 1978, before he began representing school districts, and adds that the comptroller's opinion didn't find that Reich acted improperly.

As discussed in earlier ABAJournal.com posts, parallel state and federal investigations are now ongoing, seeking information about how all of New York's more than 700 school districts paid their lawyers.

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