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Gary Lozow talks with feds
Defense attorney linked to illegal kickback scheme
By James Paton
Rocky Mountain News
Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Prominent Denver defense lawyer Gary Lozow is talking with the federal prosecutors who have accused law firm Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman of engaging in an illegal kickback scheme, his lawyer said. Lozow has been linked to Howard Vogel, a retired real estate mortgage broker who recently admitted that he and his family received nearly $2.5 million in improper payments from the class-action law firm in return for being the lead plaintiff in lawsuits filed against various companies, including Valero Energy.

Vogel said in court papers he enlisted the help of a Denver attorney, identified only as "Intermediary A," to collect the fees.

The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles said the New York law firm funneled the money through the Denver lawyer to conceal the secret fee-sharing arrangement.

The Denver attorney who served as the middleman, according to a report in the Recorder, a California legal newspaper, is Lozow.

Lozow, a graduate of Indiana University and the University of Denver law school, is accustomed to being in the spotlight.

He's played a role in a slew of front-page cases in recent years, representing figures such as former Qwest Communications executive Marc Weisberg, the family of Dylan Klebold after the Columbine High School shootings, and a former Episcopalian priest who was sent to prison for sexually assaulting two boys and faces a new trial.

In 2003, he defended a Saudi man, Naif Al-Yousif, who was charged in Denver with the murder of a fellow Saudi student.

A bio on the Web site of his company in Denver, Isaacson Rosenbaum, quotes him as saying, "The bottom line is every client deserves his attorney's best ethical effort, no matter who the client is."

Stephen Peters, a Lindquist & Vennum lawyer and a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado who worked with Lozow on the Weisberg case, called Lozow an "honest, extraordinarily dogged, hard-working lawyer."

Lawyer John Walsh of Hill & Robbins, who is representing Lozow, neither confirmed nor denied the relationship between Vogel and Lozow that was cited in the Recorder.

But he said that Lozow has been working with the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California for "some months."

Walsh, also based in Denver, said he could not comment beyond that because of "pending legal activity."

Milberg Weiss and two of its partners were charged this month with giving kickbacks to clients for serving as lead plaintiffs. Prosecutors said the firm received more than $200 million in attorneys' fees from the lawsuits and dished out $11.3 million in illegal payments through lawyers who served as intermediaries.

The firm defended itself in a statement on its Web site.

"The government's allegations of wrongdoing have been categorically denied by the indicted partners," it said, "and the firm intends to join with them in vigorously defending against the charges."

In the latest twist, Los Angeles attorney Richard Purtich admitted that he illegally accepted money from the law firm and passed it on to plaintiff Steven Cooperman.

It's unclear what kind of conversation Lozow is having with federal prosecutors.

Thom Mrozek, public affairs officer for the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, declined to comment.

In mid-1992, Milberg told Vogel he needed to find a lawyer to take the money on his behalf because paying him directly could be a possible conflict of interest, the legal papers state. This was "established practice," partners told Vogel, according to the documents.

After the discussion, Vogel found an attorney in Denver to accept the money, the papers reveal.

In one late-2003 example, Milberg sent checks to the lawyer, who in turn wired about $1.2 million to Vogel, according to the court file.

patonj@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-2544

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/other_business/article/0,2777,DRMN_23916_4736068,00.html