Burton N. "Burt" Pugach (born April 20, 1927) is a New York based lawyer who spent 14 years in prison for hiring men to throw lye in the face of his former girlfriend (and future wife) Linda Eleanor Riss (February 23, 1937 – January 22, 2013).
At the age of 16, Pugach graduated from Evander Childs High School in New York City. He later received a B.B.A. from City College of New York and a law degree from Brooklyn Law School, from which he graduated cum laude.
After being admitted to the New York State bar, Pugach and Herbert Weitz built the law firm of Weitz and Pugach. The firm, specializing in negligence cases, became highly influential. Its success, however, was short-lived. On November 19, 1958, the Special Committee on Professional Conduct charged Weitz and Pugach with engaging in fee splitting.
Pugach married Francine Rifkin on June 24, 1951. They had one child, a daughter, Caryn Brenda Pugach, born July 21, 1954. Caryn was born mentally disabled and died on April 7, 1995.
In 1959 Pugach began an infamous courtship of Linda Riss, a 21-year-old woman from the East Bronx. Upon discovering that Pugach had a wife and daughter, Riss broke off their relationship. Pugach then threatened to kill or hurt Riss if she left him, saying "If I can't have you, no one else will have you, and when I get through with you no one else will want you." Riss reported the threat to the New York Police Department to no avail.
Upon hearing of her engagement to Larry Schwartz, Pugach hired three assailants to attack Riss. The assailants threw lye in Riss's face, leaving her blind in one eye, nearly blind in the other, and permanently scarred. Pugach was convicted of the crime and spent 14 years in prison, during which time he continually wrote to Riss.
After he was released from prison in 1974, Pugach and Riss resumed their relationship and married soon thereafter. In 1976 they co-wrote a book, A Very Different Love Story.
In 1997 Pugach was once again accused of threatening a woman with whom he was having an affair. His wife, Linda, appeared at his trial as a character witness for him.
Linda Riss Pugach died of heart failure on January 22, 2013, at the age of 75.
- Fox, Margalit (January 23, 2013). "Linda Riss Pugach, Whose Life Was Ripped From Headlines, Dies at 75". New York Times. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
- Farnsworth, Ward and Grady, Mark F. Torts: Cases & Questions. Aspen Publishers. 2004. ISBN 978-0-7355-2704-1
- Stainback, Berry. A Very Different Love Story: Burt and Linda Pugach's Intimate Account of Their Triumph Over Tragedy. Morrow, 1976. ISBN 978-0-688-03089-6
- Website for Crazy Love (movie)
- Crazy Love IMDb
- For Worse and for Better: Documenting an Obsession Article from The New York Times
- Riss v. New York A lawsuit filed by Linda Riss against the New York City Police Department for failing to protect her