serious if an attorney lawyers up
By Al Lewis,
Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Denver criminal defense attorney Gary Lozow represented the
parents of Dylan Klebold after the Columbine massacre -- and
telecom executive Marc Weisberg in the Qwest scandal. Now,
in yet another high-profile case, Lozow has an attorney of
One of Lozow's clients, Howard Vogel, 61, of Englewood,
N.J., and Florida recently pleaded guilty to one count of
making a false statement in court. This guilty plea is the
first federal prosecutors have garnered in their six-year
investigation of Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman.
Lots of powerful people would love to see Milberg Weiss
swing. The law firm is famous for filing costly
class-action securities lawsuits against large corporations
and their top executives, including, locally, Qwest and its
ex-CEO, Joe Nacchio.
In his pleading, Vogel says he and his family took nearly
$2.5 million in kickbacks from Milberg Weiss in exchange for
being the lead plaintiffs in 40 cases against companies
including Valero Energy Corp. and Oxford Health Plans
between 1991 and 2005.
Vogel, a retired mortgage broker said he twice used "an
attorney in Denver" to collect kickbacks from Milberg
Weiss: nearly $70,000 in 1994 for his role in the Valero
lawsuit and $1.1 million in 2003 for his role in the Oxford
In his pleading, Vogel said his Denver attorney flew to New
York to discuss payments with a Milberg Weiss partner, face
to face. Citing attorneys close to the case, The Recorder,
a legal newspaper in California, last week identified the
attorney as Lozow and the partner as Melvyn Weiss, a lead
partner at Milberg Weiss.
Lozow declined comment but said he hired Denver attorney
John Walsh, a former federal prosecutor, to represent him.
"We're working closely with the U.S. Attorney's office in
Los Angeles," Walsh said Monday. "It's an ongoing
investigation, so it's hard for us to comment."
It's not yet clear whether Vogel's plea would make Lozow a
target for prosecution, a witness against Milberg Weiss, or
both. In any case, Lozow's testimony could conceivably help
prosecutors finally build a case against Milberg Weiss after
six long years of probing.
Milberg Weiss and other class-action law firms often race
each other to court when a company's stock price declines.
The firm that files first is often awarded lucrative
lead-counsel status in what becomes a combined case. So,
getting a lead plaintiff on board quickly is imperative.
As part of his plea, Vogel, a retired mortgage broker,
agreed to forfeit $2 million in ill-gotten gains. He also
faces five years in prison and has agreed to cooperate with
prosecutors in their ongoing investigation of Milberg Weiss.
Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los
Angeles, declined comment.
Anthony Accetta, a former federal prosecutor and a financial
crimes investigator based in Denver, called the allegations
against Lozow disturbing.
"If the observations ... are true and accurate, they
represent a disturbing activity for any lawyer to be
involved in," he said. "That activity runs the risk of
being called criminal."
Lozow is one of Denver's top criminal defense attorneys,
often representing defendants in headline-making cases
involving murders, child molestation and white-collar crime.
In December, Lozow's client Weisberg pleaded guilty to one
felony count of wire fraud and avoided a prison sentence.
He was accused of secretly asking Qwest suppliers for
low-priced stock offerings for himself and his family.
Before Weisberg's guilty plea there was an unusual twist.
Prosecutors told the court they might call Lozow as a
witness, an unusual request that would have disqualified
Lozow as Weisberg's attorney.
Prosecutors said they would introduce evidence regarding
Lozow's conduct that was raised during Qwest's internal
investigation of Weisberg.
At the time, Steve Peters, Weisberg's co-counsel, called it
a tactic to interfere with Weisberg's defense. The case
ended before the feds brought their evidence.
Lozow's visibility makes him an attractive target for
federal prosecutors. But Milberg Weiss is an even a more
attractive target. Are Vogel and Lozow keys to this
long-investigated case? Stay tuned.
Al Lewis' column appears
Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Respond to Lewis at
denverpostbloghouse.com/lewis, 303-820-1967 or