Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Big Dipper: Update #4

For a guy who is now busy trying to meet multiple deadlines, I've been nailing up quite a few posts to this Blog the past few days.

A Lexis-Nexis news search for Lawrence W. Reich brings up 21 hits within the past 2 weeks. More action, more subpoenas, more play in the press. My comments, in no particular order:

A. Until today (25 February 2008), all of those hits were in Newsday, which is not surprising, given the Long Island situs of the story. But today, the New York Daily News weighed in with an editorial. The editorial's angle is to the effect that New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli looks like a smacked toochas for not catching this business with Reich. Regardless of whether one agrees with this viewpoint (I personally endorse it wholeheartedly), the proactive coverage of the story (as opposed to a reprint parroting the story) by a tabloid other than Newsday starts a new bar on the Gantt chart. It is no longer a Newsday exclusive.

B. One of the Newsday hits was Joye Brown's column of 19 February 2008. In that column, Ms. Brown states that the smoking gun letter to Reich from Harborfields School District Deputy Superintendent Joe Dragone was denied to Newsday's Sandra Peddie when she requested it pursuant to New York's Freedom of Information Law, but Peddie "obtained it elsewhere." I wondered about that, but now it all fits. Today's Newsday carries a story, under the by-line of Sandra Peddie and Robert Kessler, which essentially reports that last July, current Harborfields Superintendent Janet Wilson, who is now suing the Harborfields District over her nonrenewed contract, disclosed the matter of Reich's double dipping to her attorney, who then reported it to the Ingerman Smith law firm, of which Reich's was then a partner; and that the report set into motion a chain of events that led to Reich's resignation from the firm.

Query: Was it Janet Wilson who was Ms. Peddie's the "elsewhere" source for the document? Without drawing any definitive conclusions, I will note that (1) when I was with the IRS, almost all of the tax snitch cases I dealt with involved an ex-spouse, a spurned mistress or a fired employee; and (2) a school district superintendent who feels insecure regarding his or her continued employment is far, far better postured to copy documents without arousing suspicion than is a wife or husband who suspects the fidelity of his or her spouse.

C. The function of every business organization is dependent upon the social interactions of its members. It seems that while Sandra Peddie seems to be Newsday's point woman for the Reich case, Robert Kessler and others seem also to be in on the case, and, as alluded to above and in prior posts, other Newsday journalists who are not per se assigned to the Reich case seem to be socially interactive with Peddie and Kessler and others who are. This is the way a newspaper ought to run. But the corollary is that the collective Newsday organization probably has more -- lots more -- arrows in its quiver, which will be selectively and measuredly shot in a manner to best groom the story for Pulitzer Prize consideration or the like.

D. Notwithstanding the Ingerman Smith law firm's decision last July to rid itself of Reich, it seems that the attorneys there may have fallen somewhat short of the requirements of Disciplinary Rule 1-103, the so-called "rat rule" which requires attorneys in possession of information "that raises a substantial question as to another lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer" to squeal on their colleagues. There probably won't be any major disciplinary actions against the other Ingerman Smith attorneys who weren't double dipping, but I'm sure that nobody at Ingerman Smith is sleeping too well on account of it.

In Update #3, I stated that "[t]he case will, in all likelihood, get more interesting before it starts to get boring." For the next few weeks, this case is not about to get boring!

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