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Long IslandObituaries

State Legislature honors Herbert Sachs, former state assemblyman and defense attorney, who died at 86

He was a one-term New York State assemblyman who served during a tumultuous session and who later, as a private-practice attorney, went head-to-head with lawyers for comedian Eddie Murphy.

He also is responsible for the bicycle path to Jones Beach.

Herbert Sachs, a Bronx native who had law practices in Bellmore and Las Vegas, died in Las Vegas on Feb. 25. He was 86.

Last month, Sachs was honored with other deceased members by the New York State Legislature as "a true advocate for his people." The resolution, designed to honor "the memory of the deceased members" of the legislature, noted of Sachs: "If he believed in you and your cause, he would fight for you."

Sachs received his law degree from Brooklyn College in 1951, his son, Eric Sachs of Dix Hills, said. The elder Sachs was admitted to the state bar in 1951 and began work for an insurance defense firm.

He later established a criminal defense firm in Bellmore, where he practiced until being admitted to the Nevada bar in 1986. He had an active practice in Las Vegas until his death.

In 1964, Sachs was elected as a state assemblyman representing the 5th District on Long Island. His term was short-lived after a federal court declared an apportionment formula used to establish seats in the legislature unconstitutional and a special election was ordered.

During his time in the Assembly, Sachs had a front-row seat on a dramatic political battle between two top New York Democrats -- then-New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who'd defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Kenneth B. Keating in the 1964 elections. In 1965, Sachs lost his re-election bid.

During his single term he sponsored two bills -- the benefits of which, his son said, are still enjoyed today by New Yorkers. One enabled motorists to enter a plea by mail in response to tickets. The second led to the creation of the bicycle path along the Wantagh State Parkway to Jones Beach.

During his legal career Sachs represented entertainment manager King Broder of North Bellmore in a breach of contract civil suit against Eddie Murphy; later, in Las Vegas, Sachs represented a mother accused of killing her diabetic 11-year-old daughter by withholding her insulin injections.

In that case, Sachs argued to the Nevada Supreme Court that the accused, Cheryl Botzet, faced double jeopardy because the state had ordered her to be retried after her initial 2005 second-degree conviction had been thrown out. Just after Sachs died, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that Botzet could be tried again.

Eric Sachs recalled how his father had once run out of gas on the Southern State Parkway with Yankees great Joe DiMaggio in his car -- and how his dad had introduced him to Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, as well as to Muhammad Ali and Robert Kennedy. Eric Sachs said his father remained most passionate about the legal process and the law, arguing with the same vigor no matter if his client was famous or not.

Sachs is survived by his son, Eric; daughters Cheryl Helfer, also of Dix Hills, and Suzan Waks of Palos Verdes, California; nine grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Herbert Sachs was buried beside his second wife, Jane, in New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon.

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