Legal Ethics

Iconic N.Y. Lawyer Settles Pension Probe; 'Worked' Over 1,200 Days in a Year

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A Long Island, N.Y., private practitioner whose claims in government legal bills to have worked more than 1,200 days in a single year led to a massive probe of state pensions being paid to attorneys has agreed to give up his own benefits.

Lawrence Reich, 69, will no longer receive the $62,000 annual pension or lifetime health coverage he was awarded as a result of being simultaneously reported as a full-time employee of five school districts, reports Newsday (sub. req.). Reich also will pay over $240,000 to the state attorney general’s office.

“This lawyer epitomized the systemic waste and abuse in a state public pension system that routinely paid out millions in public funds to private-sector professionals who weren’t entitled to them,” says N.Y. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. “His claims defied logic.”

Reich’s lawyer, Peter Tomao, declined to discuss the settlement with the newspaper.

It is the latest in a series of settlements by New York attorneys accused of being incorrectly listed as employees of school districts and other government entities while in private practice in order to qualify for state pensions and other benefits. It isn’t clear from news coverage whether those who may have done so also collected salaries in addition to law firm billings for legal work.

After working for the state department of education for more than a decade, Reich went into private practice, specializing in education law, Newsday recounts. But at the same time that his law firm collected millions of dollars for representing school districts, Reich was simultaneously reported to be a full-time employee of five of them. In 2000, he was credited for 1,271 days of work.

Earlier coverage: “N.Y. to Sue Private Lawyer ‘Employed’ By 6 School Districts for $2M Reimbursement” (2008): “More NY Lawyers Settle in Pension Probe; $1.28M Recovered to Date by AG” “Feds and State Investigate N.Y. Lawyer Who ‘Worked’ 1,286 Days in a Year”

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