It took seven years, but L.A. federal prosecutors are finally on the verge of putting famed plaintiff lawyer William Lerach in federal prison.Because Lerach is a criminal, he is also a large contributor to the Democratic Party--and John Edwards apparently has been doing his best to help Lerach. (You remember John Edwards, the candidate who talks a lot about the two Americas: the fatcats who are under criminal investigation and contribute to his campaign, and those of us who aren't.) Lerach is, of course a strong contributor to many Democrats, including Hilary Clinton, Joseph Biden, and the aforementioned John "$400 haircut" Edwards.
Several people briefed on the case said Monday that Lerach and the prosecutors had agreed on a binding deal in which Lerach's lawyers would ask for a sentence of 12 months and prosecutors would seek 24 months. If U.S. District Judge John Walter does not want to sentence Lerach within that range, the deal would be scuttled.
The agreement, said people familiar with the case, would have Lerach pay a fine of $8 million, and would get his former firm — now known as Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins — out from under the investigation.
Lerach announced late last month that he would be retiring. He left the firm on Aug. 29.
Lerach has been the target of L.A. federal prosecutors since 2000, when a Beverly Hills ophthalmologist aiming to lessen his prison sentence for insurance fraud told the government that he had been given illegal kickbacks by Lerach while serving as a lead plaintiff in securities class actions.
Steven Cooperman's information sparked a wide-ranging probe of Lerach and his former law firm, which is now known as Milberg Weiss. (Lerach split from that firm in 2004 to start San Diego-based Lerach Couglin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins.)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Lerach Pleading Guilty
I mentioned early this year a federal criminal investigation that was leading to William Lerach, a prominent California lawyer who sues companies when their stock goes down--and not surprisingly, was good buddies with Democrats like Clinton. Now Lerach is pleading guilty: