The Daily Caveat is written by Michael Thomas, a recovering corporate investigator in the Washington, DC-area. [More]

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1/21/2009
Milberg Defendants Head to Prison
Steven Schulman and Howard Vogel begin their stint behind bars.

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10/29/2008
Schulman Also Sentenced
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.

--MDT

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12/17/2007
Schulman Sues Milberg over Legal Bills
The former partner at Milberg Weiss claims that the firm agreed to cover his legal bills subsequent to his guilty plea on the federal kickback case pending against the firm. Schulman has also sued Bill Lerach's former spin-off firm, Coughlin Stoia. More from Peter Lattman at the WSJ Lawblog.

-- MDT

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10/10/2007
Milberg's Schulman Enters Guilty Plea
Racketeering... We knew the deal was done. And now the Schulman guilty plea is in.

-- MDT

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9/18/2007
Lerach Guilty Plea: To Serve 12 to 24 Months
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.

-- MDT

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8/08/2007
Milberg Hearing Sees 3 Counts Dismissed, 20 to Go
Well, mail fraud looks to be out, but on the key question about whether or not the alleged kickbacks did any harm to Milberg's clients, the judge came down in favor the the government's case stating that the harm from these actions was "forseeable" and actual harm need not be proven. More on Milberg at the WSJ law blog.

For additional notes on recent Milberg-related happenings, see Lyle Roberts' 10b-5 Daily, which as you covered.

-- MDT

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7/06/2007
Milberg's Schulman Continues to Battle Charges Against Him
Steven Schulman, one of the former Milberg Weiss partners facing charges in the ongoing probe of the firm, continues to pursue the dismissal of charges against him. While his former firm talks plea deal, Schulman has expanded his motion seeking a dismissal of charges against him.

His most recent filing addresses the charge of "honest services fraud" arguing that the government's definition is vague and arbitrary. Schulman is also attempting to pick apart the charges of mail fraud and failure to perform his fiduciary duty. Whether he's successful, we'll know in time.

Law.com has further details on Schulman's legal maneuverings.

-- MDT

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6/04/2007
Lerach Retirement - The Speculation Continues
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.

--MDT

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5/16/2007
Seymour Lazar, Serial Milberg Weiss Plaintiff, Angles to Avoid Indictment on Grounds of Bad Health
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...

-- MDT

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