Noted divorce attorney William Beslow was in a mood to celebrate after a succesful decision in the appeal of Kleinschmidt v. Regan. The case, involving famously hotheaded publisher Judith Regan and her investment-banker husband, had dragged on for nine years, generating a deeply toxic river of bitterness and animosity. Beslow, who’d fallen out with his client (he’d argued the original case) picked up the phone to call Regan thinking to bury the hatchet. Regan wanted to bury the hatchet, too – in Beslow’s skull, to be precise. “He must be out of his fucking mind,” says Regan, using the charming vernacular for which she’s known. “He’s a classic sociopath.”

“I handled the case, and we won,” says Beslow, sounding wounded. “I have notes in the files thanking me for my brilliant orchestration of the trial. She got frustrated, as she’s prone to do. Had she maintained emotional equanimity for another couple of months, we’d be great friends right now.”

Regan’s divorce from Beslow is almost as ugly as the one from her husband. “He was getting nuttier and nuttier,” she says while getting made up before a taping of her talk show. “So after paying him who-knows-how-many hundreds of thousands of dollars, I just decided I’d had it. You are not going to manipulate me anymore. I’m done.”

The day after she fired him, Regan, as the New York Post reported last Friday, staged a daylight raid on Beslow’s office to repatriate her files. She enlisted flashy, pistol-packing private investigator Bill Stanton to accompany her. When they got there, “the secretary said she didn’t know where Beslow was and didn’t know how to reach him. Lie, lie, lie,” says Regan. “But she helped Bill and me round up the files and even called the mailroom for a cart since there were too many boxes for us to carry.”

The surprise attack appeared to be a total success. But about a week later, while Regan was out to dinner, two cops from Midtown North showed up at her Central Park West apartment around midnight to question her. Beslow had gone to the police and wanted her charged with petit larceny. “Though the secretary helped us round up the files,” says Stanton, who wasn’t charged, “she was now saying we’d gone in there and through intimidation and force taken everything. Well, if that’s true, why hadn’t someone called 911?”

The case was soon dismissed – but Regan’s rage is as fresh as ever. “I’d rather have somebody come up to me on the street,” she says about her relationship with Beslow, “and put a gun to my head. Rape and pillage and rob me, and it’s done. I’d prefer this to what I went through all those years, which was a gang bang.”