The U.S. Attorney’s Office has announced a plea agreement with Bill Lerach, former partner at Milberg Weiss. He will plead guilty one one count of conspiracy, forfeit $7.75 million, and pay a $250,000 fine. He will receive a prison sentence that could be from one to two years.
The charges against Lerach were part of a string of indictments in an investigation of millions of dollars in secret kickbacks paid by Milberg Weiss in exchange for people being named plaintiffs in class-action suits and shareholder suits. The government has alleged that Milberg Weiss received more than $200 million in fees from these lawsuits. Continue reading
David Bershad, former senior partner at Milberg Weiss & Bershad LLP, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy in federal court. He admitted to concealing secret payment agreements with plaintiffs in class action suits, and will forfeit $7.75 million and pay a $250,000 fine. Bershad could receive up to five years in prison, but if he cooperates in the prosecution of others, he will likely serve less than that. Continue reading
Milberg Weiss & Bershad LLP is talking with federal prosecutors about a potential settlement regarding the accusations of improper kickbacks in class-action suits. Milberg partner David Bershad is also in talks with prosecutors about a personal guilty plea.
The firm and Bershad were indicted in 2006, along with former partner Steven Schulman. The indictment of the firm lists 20 charges related to the payment of $11.3 million in kickbacks.
An agreement between Milberg and prosecutors might be finalized withn a few weeks. The settlement would likely include the payment of a fine and some future monitoring of the firm and its business practices.
Payments from Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman to expert witness John Torkelsen are being examined by federal prosecutors. They are trying to determine whether Milberg Weiss improperly used money recovered in lawsuits to pay Torkelsen for work performed in earlier cases.
Torkelsen is a financial analyst who gave expert witness testimony in shareholder lawsuits filed by Milberg Weiss in the 1980s and 1990s. He was reportedly paid tens of millions of dollars for his testimony.
It has been alleged that Torkelson was paid out of shareholder recoveries for work performed in a separate case. Any such payment made out of shareholder recoveries in an unrelated case would be inappropriate.
Torkelsen’s ex-wife has agreed to provide evidence to the criminal investigators, but the nature of the information is not currently known. The ex-wife pleaded guilty last year to federal charges related to the theft of $1.9 million from a venture capital partnership called Acorn Technology Fund.
Last year, Torkelson himself was convicted of making a false accounting entry into the books of Acorn. It is also alleged that he wrongfully converted $5 million of Acorn’s funds.
The New York based law firm of Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman was indicted in Los Angeles yesterday for twenty years of activities, including a conspiracy to give kickbacks to lead plaintiffs in securities class-action cases. It is alleged that the fraud included payment of over $11 million in kicbacks, disguised as referral fees or other legitimate payments.
Included in the charges are conspiracy, racketeering, mail fraud, money laundering, and filing false tax returns. Melvyn Weiss, a co-founder of the firm, is not named as a defendant, but partners David Bershad and Steven Schulman are. Continue reading