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Fresh Meadows attorney arrested with arms cache

A Fresh Meadows lawyer and auxiliary police officer was arrested last week after police found an arsenal of guns and ammunition stashed in his house just blocks from an elementary school, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Philip Bernstein, 46, of 69-40 Fresh Meadow Lane, is accused of criminal possession of six rifles, a double barrel shotgun and a handgun, Brown said

The DA said police also discovered eight guns that Bernstein was licensed to hold along with more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition and 80 ammunition magazines stored inside his home on June 26.

Bernstein, who lives two blocks from PS 173, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the third and fourth degree and breaking a firearms-ammunition city law, Brown told a news conference Monday. He could face up to seven years in jail if convicted.

“This arsenal of weapons is quite unbelievable,” Brown said. “What is particularly troubling, indeed alarming ... is the fact that the defendant lives just two blocks from Public School 173.”

Bernstein was arraigned Friday and the next court appearance was set for July 11. Assistant District Attorney Marnie Lobel will prosecute the case.

The weapons were found after Bernstein’s fiancée called police at about 1:30 p.m. on June 26 to complain that he was menacing her with a handgun, Brown said. Bernstein’s fiancée was crying outside the residence, claiming that Bernstein had several guns in the house, police said.

The defendant, who is free on $200,000 bail, allowed officers from the 107th Precinct to enter his residence, where they noticed several guns, Brown said.

A few hours later, police returned with a search warrant and seized Bernstein’s 16-weapon stockade, including many loaded guns, the district attorney said. Two 9mm assault rifles were allegedly hidden under Bernstein’s bed, the double barrel shotgun, marked “for law enforcement use only,” was in a hallway closet, and several guns were stored in a safe, Brown said.

When reached by telephone, Bernstein’s fiancée declined to comment.

Police said Bernstein, who worked as an auxiliary officer at the 107th Precinct for more than two years, had several issues of Soldier of Fortune, an ultra-conservative weapons and military magazine, and a written plan on how to defend his home against an attack.

Police said Bernstein, who practices commercial law from his home, has no criminal background and that no hate literature was found in his residence.

Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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