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United States v. Reich

March 10, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garaufis, United States District Judge


A jury found the Defendant Perry Reich ("Reich" or "Defendant") guilty of forgery of a judge's signature, of corruptly obstructing a judicial proceeding, and of making willfully false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") agents. The Defendant now moves for a judgment of acquittal or, in the alternative, a new trial, pursuant to Rules 29(c) and 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, respectively, for bail pending appeal, and to modify the trial transcript. For the reasons stated below, the Defendants' motions are DENIED, except for the application to modify the transcript, which is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


Because the questions raised by Defendant in his post-trial motions require this court to look at the entire trial record, what follows is a detailed examination of the evidence presented at trial. Reich's convictions arise from a forged judicial order in Ryan, Beck & Co. v. Fakih, No. 02 Civ. 4052 (E.D.N.Y.) (Mann, J.) ("the Ryan Beck lawsuit"). Prior to the lawsuit, Reich, who held an account with Gruntal & Co. ("Gruntal"), a brokerage firm, filed an arbitration claim against Gruntal claiming a mishandling of his account, and then amended his claim to include Ryan Beck & Co. ("Ryan Beck"), another brokerage firm, after Ryan Beck purchased the assets of Gruntal. (Trial Transcript ("Tr.") 328-32.) In the Ryan Beck lawsuit, plaintiff Ryan Beck sought to enjoin investors, including Reich, from arbitrating these claims against it. (Id.)

A. Evidence Adduced at Trial

On June 17, 2003, at approximately 11:10 a.m., the law offices of Joel Davidson ("the Davidson firm"), the representative of Ryan Beck in the lawsuit, received by facsimile transmission a document that purported to be an order ("the forged Order"), dated June 17, 2003, issued by Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann, who was assigned to the Ryan Beck lawsuit. (Tr. 532-33; Gov. Ex. 1.) The forged Order recalled and vacated a previous order, dated June 3, 2003, denied a preliminary injunction, enjoined the parties from proceeding with an arbitration hearing and recused Judge Mann from further proceedings in the case. (Gov. Ex. 1.)

The forged Order was transmitted as a four page document, including a cover letter and three page Memorandum and Order. (Gov. Ex. 1.) The forged Order has Judge Mann's fax header and her signature, and the cover page appears to be from the Eastern District of New York, with Judge Mann's address and telephone number. (Id.) However, the forged Order appears to have been fashioned from the June 3, 2003 Order, which has the same caption and same third page. (Tr. 532-33; Gov. Ex. 24; compare Gov. Ex. 1 with Ex. 31.) The date of the cover page, the fax header, and the forged Order appear to have been changed by hand, and the text of the forged Order is skewed. (Tr. 533; Gov. Ex. 1.) As explained in the expert testimony presented at trial, on the first page of the document "P 01" is printed upside-down at the bottom of the page, on the second page of the document "P 02" appears upside-down at the bottom of the page, the third page of the document states above the header "Extended Page 2.1," and on the last page of the document is printed upside-down at the bottom of the page, "Extended Page 2.2." (Gov. Ex. 1, 4.)

Phone records of Reich's home and the Davidson firm fax machine indicate that at 11:08 a.m., a call was initiated to the Davidson firm fax machine from a pre-paid AT&T calling card purchased by Reich. (Gov. Exs. 2, 35, 37.) Maureen Vollers, the secretary of Joel Davidson, who is counsel to Ryan Beck, testified that she found the forged Order on the Davidson firm fax machine tray shortly after 11:00 a.m. (Tr. 102-03, 129, 170.) Vollers and Naomi Weinberg, an associate at the Davidson firm, testified that Vollers handed Weinberg the forged Order between 11:15 and 11:20 a.m. (Tr. 104-105, 187.) Ms. Weinberg testified that she maintained control of the forged Order until she had it faxed to Joel Davidson at his home at approximately 12:30 p.m. (Tr. 183-90.) Joel Davidson testified that Reich was the only person with any relationship to the Ryan Beck lawsuit who sent a facsimile transmission to that machine that day. (Tr. 358-60.)

In response to the forged Order, the Davidson firm withdrew its June 9, 2003 application for a writ of mandamus from the Second Circuit that it filed in response to Judge Mann's previous (and still controlling) June 3, 2003 Order. (Tr. 363-64.) Mr. Davidson contacted Judge Korman, the district court judge assigned to the case, to request that an order be entered applying the rulings in the forged Order to all other former investors in the Ryan Beck lawsuit. (Tr. 361.) Judge Mann then communicated in an order that the forged Order was not issued by her. She held a status conference in which she discussed the forged Order, and contacted the Second Circuit to inform it that the forged Order should not be relied on in deciding the writ of mandamus. (Tr. 536-38, 547-48; Gov. Ex. 24.) Judge Mann's law clerk, John Marco, testified that the forged Order substantially complicated the proceedings. (Tr. 547-48.)

B. Reich Pretrial Statements and Trial Testimony

Reich made four separate statements denying his involvement in the creation and transmission of the forged Order. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Special Agent Richard Wilfling testified that he and agent Robert Katzman interviewed Reich on July 31, 2003 ("July 31 interview"), in which Reich denied using pre-paid telephone cards, and could not recall having any interaction with Joel Davidson. (Tr. 576-77, 581.) He testified that he interviewed Reich again on August 11, 2003 ("August 11 interview"), during an FBI search of Reich's home, in which Reich admitted to contacting Joel Davidson regarding a confidentiality agreement that Reich may have faxed. (Tr. 590-91.) Confronted with telephone records showing a connection for over three minutes on July 11, 2003 between his residence and the Davidson fax machine, agent Wilfling testified that Reich explained that he may have inadvertently called the Davidson firm fax machine and disconnected, and that the call lasted over three minutes because his telephone does not always disconnect after hanging up. (Tr. 591.)

Agent Wilfling further testified that on March 3, 2004, he, agent Katzman, a government prosecutor, and Reich and his counsel met in the United States Attorney's Office for a proffer session ("March 3 proffer session"). At that session, agent Wilfling testified that Reich denied owning or using an AT&T calling card, but said that he purchased a prepaid calling card for his girlfriend in 2002. (Tr. 599.) According to agent Wilfling, Reich reiterated that he had been trying to reach Joel Davidson, but that he accidentally dialed the Davidson firm fax machine, and that his telephone sometimes did not disconnect after a call ends. (Tr. 600-01.)

At trial, Reich denied that he created or sent the forged Order, but admitted that he called the Davidson firm fax machine number on June 17, 2003, at the time in question. (Tr. 886-87, 894, 896.) However, Reich testified that he did not intend to send a facsimile transmission, but rather had wanted to speak with Joel Davidson to resolve a discovery issue and engage in settlement discussions with the Davidson firm. (Tr. 885.) Reich explained that he dialed the fax number because he confused the Davidson fax and phone numbers from the Davidson firm letter head. (Tr. 887). He also testified that he used an AT&T calling card to make the call because he was having trouble connecting telephone calls with his Verizon account. (Tr. 886.) Lastly, Reich testified that he did not actually connect with the Davidson firm, and he suggested that the telephone records showed a long communication because his computer fax modem sometimes engages his telephone line and causes the line to remain connected after the call has ended. (Tr. 887-88.)

Regarding his capability of sending the forged Order, at trial Reich admitted that he owned a fax modem that was seized by the government, and testified that at one time he owned a Canon Fax Phone 8, but he explained that he discarded the machine in 2000. (Tr. 892-93, 949.)

C. Expert Testimony Regarding Facsimile Transmission of Forged Order

Cameron Smith, an expert on the Hewlett Packard ("HP") LaserJet 3100 and fax machines generally, testified for the government regarding the facsimile transmission of the forged Order. Smith testified that the Davidson firm fax machine is an HP LaserJet 3100, and that its transmission log for June 17, 2003 indicates that at 11:10 a.m., the machine received a three minute, eighteen second, facsimile transmission from a fax machine that had no identification field to identify the sender at 9600 bits per second ("bps") that completed successfully. (Gov. Ex. 2; Tr. 424-25.) Smith also testified that the length of this transmission is consistent with a facsimile transmission of a four page document, such as the forged Order, sent at 9600 bps. (Tr. 456, 472.)

Smith testified that the call from Reich's home must have sent a fax transmission, because the Davidson firm fax machine automatically terminates calls without a fax signal within 41 seconds. (Tr. 406, 410, 413, 454-55.) He explained that the HP LaserJet 3100 changes the scale of the images sent to fit on the page. When the HP LaserJet 3100 cannot fit an image on a single page, it prints "Extended Page" on each additional page that the image requires. Thus, if a page is sent to the HP LaserJet 3100 that is 33 inches in length, the HP LaserJet 3100 prints on the first page the page number, "X," on second page "Extended Page X.1," and on third page "Extended Page X.2." (Tr. 457-59.)

Smith testified that at the government's request, he tested the "Extended Page" function by sending facsimile transmissions to the HP LaserJet 3100 of one regular page followed by one 44-inch long page.*fn1 Based on this testing, Smith determined that if the last three pages of a four page transmission to the HP LaserJet 3100 were attached together (thereby constituting one extra-long page), the HP LaserJet 3100 would print the image in four pages, printing "Page 2" on the second page, "Extended Page 2.1," on the third page and "Extended Page 2.2," on the fourth page, and indicate a two page fax in the transmission log. (Tr. 460-68, Gov. Exs. 75, 76.) Smith testified that the "Extended Page" prints in the forged Order were generated by the HP LaserJet 3100, and that the "P01" on the cover page was not generated by the HP LaserJet 3100. (Tr. 470-71.)

The defense produced Mark Alcock, a forensics expert witness. (Tr. 983-86.) Alcock testified that his examination of the computers seized by the FBI showed that they did not create the forged Order, and that Reich's computer fax modem could not have sent it. (Tr. 997-99.) He disputed the reliability of Smith's tests of the "Extended Page" function on the HP LaserJet 3100, explaining that after trying twice to send multiple pages that were taped together, he jammed his machine. (Tr. 1000-01.) Alcock also testified that the "Extended Page" function could not have been triggered by a facsimile transmission sent by a fax modem and a flatbed scanner, as Reich alleged to have used in his home to fax. (Tr. 1002-03.) Alcock challenged the authenticity of the Government's exhibits. He asserted that the degraded quality of the header in the forged Order demonstrated that it was never originally sent as a facsimile transmission (Tr. 1023-27), and that the Davidson firm fax machine transmission log could have been replicated on Microsoft Word. (Tr. 1029-31.) Alcock also found plausible Reich's testimony that his fax modem could have "latched" onto the Davidson firm fax machine and prolonged the call after Reich had hung up. (Tr. 1038-39.)

Alcock admitted that he has never used a Canon Fax Phone 8, and that he did not test whether a Canon Fax Phone 8 could have transmitted the forged Order. He confirmed that the service manual states that one model of the Canon Fax Phone 8 faxes at 9600 bps. (Tr. 1001-02, 1039, 1114.) On cross examination, Alcock admitted that he is not an expert in the extended page feature of the HP LaserJet 3100. (Tr. 1069-78.) Alcock further admitted that his conclusion that the forged Order did not originate as a fax was based on assumptions about the magnification and resolution of the copy and the fax header of the copy. (Tr. 1143-49.)

As a rebuttal witness to Alcock, the government produced Yogeshwar Burchell, an expert in the operation of the Canon Fax Phone 8. Burchell testified that the Canon service manual seized in Reich's home was most likely of the 9600 bps model (Tr. 1214), and that the Canon Fax Phone 8 does not transmit a header. (Tr. 1215-16.)

C. Relevant Pre- and Post-Trial Motions

Before the trial, the Defendant moved in limine to prevent the government from introducing the forged Order, arguing that the government had failed to established its authenticity. (United States v. Reich, slip op., dated June 10, 2005, at 4.) I ruled that a reasonable juror could find the forged Order to be authentic based on the testimony of Davidson firm employees Weinberg and Vollers, despite the testimony of expert witness Alcock, and denied the Defendant's motion in limine to exclude the document pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 901(a). (Id. at 7.) At trial, the Defendant sought a dismissal of the charges on the basis that Alcock established that the forged Order was not sent as a facsimile transmission from Reich's home to the Davidson firm fax machine. (Tr. 1226-35.) I denied that motion from the bench. (Tr. 1235.)

After deliberations on August 25, 2005, the jury convicted Reich of (1) forgery of a judge's signature in the forged Order; (2) obstruction of justice for his role in interfering with the Ryan Beck lawsuit; and (3) making false representations to FBI agents at the March 3 proffer session.

On September 17, 2005, Defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal or for a new trial pursuant to Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 29 and 33, based on insufficient evidence, improper impeachment of a character witness, and improper rebuttal. Reich also moved for a post-trial Franks hearing. (See Def's Mem. Supp. Pre-Trial Mot.) Defendant supplanted this motion on November 30, 2005, withdrawing his Rule 29 bases of improper character impeachment and improper rebuttal, and his application for a post-trial Franks hearing, and adding as new grounds for his Rule 33 motion that the uncontradicted portions of Alcock's testimony warrant a new trial. (Def's Ltr. ...

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