Is Set for Lawyer Who Sued for Investors
By Michael Parrish
New York Times
Saturday, October 13, 2007
LOS ANGELES — Melvyn I. Weiss, known for filing class-action
investor lawsuits and representing Holocaust victims, made his
first appearance as a defendant Friday in a Los Angeles
Mr. Weiss and other former partners of the law firm now known as
Milberg Weiss are charged by the United States attorney for the
Central District of California with scheming to use paid
plaintiffs to help Milberg Weiss file class-action suits ahead
of competitors, thereby gaining higher legal fees.
Judge Charles F. Eick approved bail and travel arrangements that
had been agreed to by federal prosecutors. Mr. Weiss, 72,
agreed to put up $1 million in cash, sign a bond for an
additional $500,000 and surrender his passport.
He will be allowed to travel anywhere in New York, Florida,
California and Washington without restriction, and to the rest
of the country for trips of up to 72 hours without having to
report his plans to authorities.
Mr. Weiss, who is out on bail, appeared in a small courtroom in
the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building along with defendants in
other criminal cases, most of whom, being incarcerated, were
behind a glass partition. He appeared relaxed and tanned, in a
white shirt and dark suit.
Mr. Weiss was indicted Sept. 20 by a federal grand jury that
charged him with conspiracy, racketeering, obstruction of
justice and making false declarations under oath.
Prosecutors say the firm received $250 million in attorneys’
fees over 25 years in a kickback scheme that involved secret
payments to people who were on call to act as lead plaintiffs.
This supposedly let Milberg Weiss file suit faster than
competitors, gaining a lead position that generally resulted in
higher attorneys’ fees.
On Tuesday, Steven G. Schulman, 56, of New York, who had been a
named partner at Milberg Weiss, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and
racketeering conspiracy in federal court in Los Angeles. Mr.
Schulman is cooperating with prosecutors.
Mr. Weiss was ordered back to court on Monday for arraignment.
He is expected to plead not guilty.
After Friday’s appearance, he released a statement saying he
looked forward “to clearing my name and returning to a practice
to which I have devoted my professional life, one that has given
access to the courts to millions of Americans who would not
otherwise have been able to achieve justice.”