The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn plans to investigate the conduct of two lawyers who offered to sell taped memoirs they had obtained from David Berkowitz to at least two newspapers.
The court is also expected to inquire how the lawyers, Phillip Peltz and Ira Leifel managed to come into the state’s case against Mr. Berkowitz, the 24 year old mail clerk accused of being the slayer called “Son of Sam.”
Mr. Peltz is currently facing possible disbarment proceedings before the same court as a result of a 1969 Manhattan Federal conspiracy conviction that only recently came to the attention of the Brooklyn authorities. (The family hired Leon Stern – a store front lawyer from Mineola - as David’s lawyer.) Mr. Peltz said that David Berkowitz had retained him.
The controversy over just which lawyer represents Mr. B. flared up in public yesterday when Mr. B’s father confronted Peltz in the King’s County Hospital lobby and ordered him off the case. Mr. Peltz has a prior criminal conviction for securities violations.
Another issue yet to be resolved is the security of the 6 hours (?) of tapes.
On Thursday morning Mr. Peltz served notice of appearance in Criminal Court that he was representing Mr. B. and told Judge Brown that a member of the family had hired him – a claim the father said in a letter was untrue. Following the arraignment Mr. Peltz went to the hospital, interviewed Mr. B. and obtained a document signed by the suspect giving him power of attorney and full title to literary and press memoir rights. During the course of the evening Mr. Peltz appeared on a television new show saying the “precious rights” of Mr. B to a fair trial had to be preserved. Shortly before midnight, according to Peter Michelmore, an associate editor at The Post, Mr. Peltz and Mr. Leitel appeared in the newspaper’s city room. The lawyers offered to sell the newspaper serialization and book rights to a 30-minute taped interview and subsequent taped interviews for $100,000.
Under the terms of the agreement, Michelmore said he was told, Mr. B. would get two-thirds of the net proceeds and Mr. Peltz would get one-third. “I rejected the offer. I was quite startled. It seemed the whole thing was so absurd and distasteful.” Two hours later the tapes were offered to The Daily News for $50,000.
Excerpt from Marcia Chambers Aug 14, 1977 New York Times