Judge denies Lerach request on alcohol treatment

NEW YORK Fri Jun 13, 2008 2:53pm EDT

Class action attorney William Lerach (C) leaves U.S. District Courthouse in Los Angelesin this February 11, 2008 file photo REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Class action attorney William Lerach (C) leaves U.S. District Courthouse in Los Angelesin this February 11, 2008 file photo

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge in California has rejected a request by jailed plaintiffs' lawyer William Lerach, who is serving a two-year prison term for conspiracy, to be moved to a residential alcohol abuse treatment program for inmates.

Lerach, best known for winning more than $7 billion in legal settlements for Enron investors, should be able to get adequate treatment through other prison programs consisting of counseling and self-help programs, the judge wrote in a court order. If those programs are inadequate, the judge said, Lerach can ask the court to reconsider.

"Although it is apparent that Mr. Lerach has struggled with alcoholism in the past, the court finds that the defendant has failed to demonstrate that he currently requires the intensive treatment offered by the Bureau of Prison's Residential Drug Abuse Treatment program," U.S. District Judge John Walter wrote in the order issued on Thursday.

Lerach's defense attorney was not immediately available for comment on Friday.

Lerach began serving his sentence last month at a low-security federal prison camp in Lompoc, California. Earlier this month, his lawyers asked the judge to recommend to the federal Bureau of Prisons that Lerach be placed in the Lompoc facility's drug treatment program.

Lerach pleaded guilty last October to conspiracy related to a scheme to pay secret kickbacks to clients at his former law firm, Milberg LLP, where he once headed West Coast operations.

Other individual defendants, including Milberg co-founder Melvyn Weiss, have pleaded guilty to playing roles in the scheme. The Milberg firm itself has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges.

(Editing by Brian Moss)

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