Schulman Also Sentenced
Milberg's David Bershad Gets Six Months
The last man on the hook for Milberg Weiss's plaintiff kickback scheme gets his own six months. Great re-cap of the sentencing of both Steve Schulman and David Bershad from The National Law Journal's Legal Pad.
Labels: David Bershad, Milberg Weiss, sentencing, Steven Schulman
Lerach Guilty Plea: To Serve 12 to 24 Months
The former Milberg Weiss partner plead guilty last year to charges relating to his role in the law firm's 20 year scheme to to line up choice lead plantiffs thanks to generous, if illegal, kickbacks. Bershad, who has already forfeited about $8 million, was also assessed a $250,000 fine. More on Bershad's sentencing via Bloomberg.
Labels: David Bershad, Milberg, Milberg Weiss
Bershad Guilty Plea... Supporting Docs
It is being widely reported today that William Lerach is expected to accept a plea bargain
in connection with the continuing kickback investigation into his former firm, Milberg Weiss. While Lerach had yet to be formally faced with any charges, it has been long assumed that he was one of the unnamed attorneys
mentioned throughout the government's case against Milberg.
The word coming in from all over creation is that Lerach will accept a guilty plea on one count of conspiracy for which he would face a sentence of 12 to 24 months and an $8 million fine. It is widely known that Lerach and his lawyers have been negotiating with federal prosecutors for some time now and this purported agreement apparently reflects the outcome of those talks. A judge would still have give final approval to the deal.
Lerach would be the second former Milberg attorney to plead guilty in connection with the case. The other would be indicted former partner David Bershad, who plead guilty back in July to similar charges. Steven Schulman, a third attorney from Milberg continues to deny kickback-related charges, as does the firm itself.
Please step back and allow the dancing on the grave to begin. Overlawyered
, I'm looking at you. Point of Law
, don't disappoint me now.
Personally, I'm biased. I'll admit it. I've worked in product safety and consumer advocacy. I also cut my teeth as an investigator working on too many securities class action lawsuits not to have my sympathies with Lerach and the plaintiffs' bar. Frankly, I can count the number of cases where something significant wasn't
found - probably on one hand. And yet clearly you must
play by the rules, rules which it seems were broken.
Of couse, the guilty plea isn't what burned Lerach's rep. Even before the kickback case got going in earnest (about 6 years into the 7 year investigation) Lerach was a already a polarizing figure.
His tactics over the year have done little to endear him to the other side of the aisle, but his success on behalf of investors have also not been insignificant.
The legal profession might be a bit dirtier for Lerach's influence and, lets call it zealous advocacy
, but you can't tell me that business isn't also a little cleaner as a result. I won't mourn his rightful prosecution but I don't plan on celebrating it either.
Labels: Bill Lerach, David Bershad, Lerach, Milberg, Milberg Weiss, Seymour Lazar, Steven Cooperman, Steven Schulman
Milberg's David Bershad Pleads Guilty on Kickback Charges
Fortune's Legal Pad
has links out to the David Bershad plea agreement, along with a statement of fact and other supporting information. Go read it.
I'll wait. Done?
Great, now go check out Parloff's follow-up post
. Hot water, getting hotter - all around.
Labels: bribery, David Bershad, indictment, Milberg Weiss
Lerach Retirement - The Speculation Continues
Formerly a name partner at embattled plaintiff firm, Milberg Weiss, David Bershad has plead guilty on conspiracy charges
stemming from the Justice Department's seven year long investigation into business practices at his former firm.
Word on the street for the last few weeks had been that Bershad had started dealing
and that a plea deal was imminent. Coincidentally or not, this talk of a Bershad cutting a plea occurred simultaneously with the leak about Bill Lerach's planned retirement.
Whatever the other undisclosed terms of Bershad's deal might be, we know that Bershad will forfeit $7.5 million, pay a $250,000 fine and - most importantly - cooperate with prosecutors in their ongoing investigation.
The Feds are still working on landing the big fish - Bill Lerach and Melvyn Weiss. This move by Bershad definitely puts the hooks a bit closer than they were just a week ago.
Labels: Bill Lerach, David Bershad, kickbacks, Melvyn Weiss, Milberg, Milberg Weiss
Bill Lerach Calls it Quits
The New York Times continues to ponder
what exactly we can discern from the purported retirement of famed plaintiff attorney, Bill Lerach
. The bane of the Overlawyered
set, Lerach made his name at securities class action juggernaut, Milberg Weiss. After a falling out with Milberg's founder Melvin Weiss, Lerach broke out on his own in 2004 four.
Obviously the last few months haven't been stellar for Milberg, what with partners under indictment and a firm-wide investigation ongoing into the use of kickback payments to compensate lead plaintiffs for participating in the firm's class actions. Speculation is well under way that Lerach's departure may mean that the seven year investigation into his former firm is finally catching up to him.
While no one in the know
is talking just yet, the NYT speculates that a Lerach resignation could be a signal of a looming deal with federal prosecutors, one that would spare his firm should indictments start raining down. For sure, deals are being thrown around left and right
at the moment, but none so far that seem to favor Lerach.
Last week, former Milberg partner David Bershad struck his own deal with federal prosecutors, pleading guilty to some of the charges against him. The question is, in exchange for what - and whether the second indicted Milberg partner, Steven Schulman follow suit. There is even word that Milberg Weiss is seeking a firm-wide deal
Whatever the outcome, no one is calling any of these maneuverings good
for Lerach and many are linking the dealings to talk of Lerach's retirement...and while the former partners threaten to do each other in, rival securities firms are moving in to pick up the slack
Labels: Bill Lerach, David Bershad, kickbacks, Melvyn Weiss, Milberg Weiss, Steven Cooperman, Steven Schulman
Seymour Lazar, Serial Milberg Weiss Plaintiff, Angles to Avoid Indictment on Grounds of Bad Health
William S. Lerach, one of the most famous litigators in America has called it a day. It has been reported by Fortune magazine that Lerach, the plantiff attorney most famous for representing shareholders of Enron and the mind who launched a thousand class action lawsuits is planning to leave the namesake firm
he founded only three years ago.
Lerach made is name with Milberg Weiss, another lawfirm famous for its work on behalf of aggrieved investors. What happens next for Lerach is anyone's guess - he has yet to even formerly announce his departure but speculation regarding his fate has already begun. Thusfar Lerach has remained largely untouched by the kickback scandal that has engulfed his former colleagues at Milberg Weiss.
Whether that will remain the case is no certain thing. News that indicted former Milberg partner David Bershad is considering a settlement
with federal investigators that would include a guilty plea in exchange for his cooperation does not exactly bode well for Lerach. He is certainly a big fish and federal prosecutors have spent most of the last decade trying to catch him at dirty pool.
Lerach, for his part, has long insisted that prosecutors persistent interest in him is based on politics, not perfidy...
Labels: Bill Lerach, David Bershad, kickbacks, Melvyn Weiss, Milberg Weiss
Steven Schulman Out at Milberg
79 year old Seymour Lazar was indicted in June 2005 by federal prosecutors in hot pursuit of class action giant Milberg Weiss. Lazar was accused of receiving kickbacks from Milberg in exchange for serving repeatedly as lead plaintiff in the law firm's class action suits.
Unlike others in similarly uncomfortable positions, Lazar steadfastly refused to deal or talk. Now, as Lazar's trial is gearing up a series of hearings have been scheduled, and the first already concluded, to determine whether the ailing almost-octogenarian can reasonably withstand the rigors of the courtoom.
For further details on the Lazar trial, check out the New York Sun
In related news, former Milberg partner and one of the individuals named in the firm's "kickback" indictment, Steven Schulman, has asked that the charges against him be dismissed
. Schulman, along with former Milberg partner David Bershad faces charges including conspiracy, mail fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and tax violation . Schulman requested the dismissal of charges based on the claim that shareholders in lawsuits where lead plaintiffs received kickbacks suffered no actual harm.
For background on all of the above shenanigans, check out the tags below, which will take you to The Daily Caveat's
past coverage of the long in coming Milberg indictment and all the colorful players it involves...
Labels: David Bershad, kickbacks, Melvyn Weiss, Milberg, Milberg Weiss, money laundering, Seymour Lazar, Steven Cooperman, Steven Schulman
Milberg Trial Has a Date, New Charges Teased
He'll be pursing "new opportunities"
including defending himself against the criminal indictment
he's currently facing relating to kickbacks Milberg aledgedly made over the years to their lead plaintiffs who put in repeat performances. Current Milberg partner David Bershad is also under indictment on the same charges.
Labels: David Bershad, indictment, kickbacks, Milberg, Milberg Weiss
Milberg Attorneys Plead Not Guilty on 20 Count Indictment
Federal prosecutors made it known yesterday
that their ongoing probe into class action giant, Milberg Weiss
may yet expand further. The Feds have been doggedly pursuing information on Milberg bad acts for years. They finally hit paydirt with a perfect storm of informants and double-dealers, who provided regulators with details on kickbacks ($11.3 million over the last 25 years) allegedly given by Milberg to regular, repeated lead plaintiffs in its class action cases.
Thus far, indictments have been brought, lawyers have fled, offices have closed and not guilty pleas have been entered and Milberg partners, Steven Schulman and David Bershad are awaiting trial, a trial that now has a date
- January 8, 2008.
The new charges teased reportedly relate to potentially false invoices submitted on behalf of expert witnesses for work that was never performed. One wonders whether such false invoices might also relate to work conducted by outside investigators on Milberg's behalf. While in recent years Milberg had moved much of this work to internal staff, they have been a great and lucrative source of work for investigators for many years.
In related news, Bill Lerach, the famous former partner in Milberg Weiss who a few years back hung out his own shingle, has remained untouched by the case against Milberg. It seems at the present time, in fact, that no additional individuals will added to the prosecutors case. But that hasn't stopped the matter from having an impact.
One has to assume, for example, that the indictment played a role in the request to have Lerach's firm removed
as lead counsel in the ongoing $4 billion class action lawsuit against Haliburton, in favor of David Boies.
Labels: Bill Lerach, David Bershad, David Boies, kickbacks, Lazar, Melvyn Weiss, Milberg, Milberg Weiss
kickback probe continues, this time court-side. Milberg partners, currently on leave, David J. Bershad
and Steven G. Schulman
both made their first appearance in an L.A. court room on Friday. Each was released on $1million bail and scheduled to appear on Monday to enter their respective pleas. Details follow on yesterday's L.A. court proceedings from The Mercury News
. The article is also a decent summary of the happenings to date in the Milberg kickback probe:
Law firm, partners, plead not guilty to federal charges in LA
July 17, 2006
A top class-action law firm and two of its partners pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of secretly paying more than $11 million in kickbacks to get people to take part in shareholder lawsuits. Also pleading not guilty in federal court were Seymour M. Lazar, who is accused of acting as a paid plaintiff in some of the firm's cases, and Paul T. Selzer, who is charged with laundering money on Lazar's behalf.
In a 20-count indictment handed down in May, prosecutors alleged that Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, along with partners David J. Bershad and Steven G. Schulman, secretly paid Lazar and others since 1984 to act as plaintiffs in class-action suits against major corporations.
Federal prosecutors alleged that secret kickback arrangements allowed the firm to be among the first to file lawsuits on behalf of shareholders and secure the lucrative position as lead plaintiffs' counsel. The indictment also alleged that "the paid plaintiffs purchased the securities at issue anticipating that the securities would decline in value, in order to position themselves to be named plaintiffs in securities fraud class actions and to obtain kickbacks" from the firm and others.
All the individual defendants were in court to enter their pleas except Lazar, who was unable to attend for medical reasons. Bershad and Schulman are on leave from the firm.
The case, which is the result of an ongoing federal investigation, has already resulted in plea deals with two people allegedly involved in the payoff schemes. Retired real estate mortgage broker Howard Vogel agreed in April to plead guilty to one count of making a false declaration before a court and admitted to receiving $2.5 million in kickbacks from Milberg Weiss in connection with class actions in which he was the plaintiff.
Los Angeles attorney Richard Purtich agreed in May to plead guilty to a federal tax offense by acting as an intermediary through which Milberg Weiss paid his former client Steven G. Cooperman more than $2.5 million in fees for acting as plaintiff in several class actions.
The firm denies any wrongdoing. In a statements released after Monday's arraignment, Bershad's attorney, Robert Luskin, said the indictment "is a disgrace and the charges are utterly baseless," and the firm said it is "confident that we will be fully vindicated"...
Read the full Mercury News article here
. And if needbe, catch up on the story by reading some of our past coverage
Labels: David Bershad, Howard Vogel, hulman, kickbacks, Melvyn Weiss, Milberg, Milberg Weiss, money laundering, Steven Cooperman