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Lawyer: Probe a home-wrecker

| Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2004

TOMS RIVER, N.J. -- Federal investigators are destroying the life of a New York doctor by wrongly linking him to the fatal anthrax mailings in 2001, his lawyer said Monday.

Dr. Kenneth Berry, whose home in Wellsville, N.Y., was searched by federal agents in August along with his parents' Dover Township, N.J., vacation home, had nothing to do with the deadly mailings that killed five people and sickened 17 others, said Berry's lawyer, Clifford Lazzaro.

Berry, who formerly worked as an emergency room physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center McKeesport, was in court Monday for what was to have been a hearing stemming from a domestic violence case brought against him several hours after the FBI raids Aug. 5. The hearing was postponed because a prosecution witness was unavailable to testify. No new date was set.

Berry did not speak to reporters.

Police charged Berry with assault after an altercation at the White Sands Motel in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., where FBI agents brought the family after the searches. Berry has filed countercharges against his wife, Tana, but still loves her and hopes to reconcile with her, Lazzaro said.

"I believe the family cracked under the pressure," Lazzaro said outside the courthouse. "He has already lost his job; must he lose his marriage, too?

"When he is cleared, it will only make this tragedy that much worse that he not only lost his job but also lost his family for a crime he did not commit," Lazzaro said. Berry cannot see his wife or two teenage stepdaughters because of a temporary restraining order filed against him in the assault case.

Lazzaro said Berry "was bruised and battered" during the altercation inside the motel, and filed countercharges in an effort to protect himself legally.

Berry has not been charged in the anthrax attacks. He founded an organization in 1997 that trains medical professionals to respond to chemical and biological attacks.

Shortly after the raids in August, Berry was fired from his job as an emergency room physician at UPMC McKeesport.

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