| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Jan 29 Class-action lawyer William
Lerach should serve two years in prison for his role in a
kickback scheme at his former law firm, Milberg Weiss LLP,
federal prosecutors said.
Lerach, best known for winning more than $7 billion in
legal settlements on behalf of Enron investors, is due to be
sentenced on Feb. 11 after pleading guilty in October to one
count of criminal conspiracy.
In court papers filed late on Monday, the U.S. Attorney's
Office in Los Angeles said a two-year sentence was appropriate
and that the 61-year-old Lerach "now stands in disgrace before
the profession of which he considered himself a national
Prosecutors said they disagreed with a recommendation by
federal probation officers that Lerach serve a 15-month term.
The government said "a sentence of 15 months incarceration
would not provide adequate deterrence to other attorneys
tempted to abuse their positions as lawyers for personal
An attorney for Lerach, John Keker, was not immediately
available for comment on Tuesday.
A plea agreement calls for Lerach to serve one to two years
in prison, but U.S. District Judge John Walter has final
discretion. Lerach already has agreed to forfeit $7.75 million
and pay a $250,000 fine.
Lerach, a long-time nemesis of corporate America, once was
a senior partner and headed West Coast operations for Milberg,
but departed in 2004 to form a new San Diego-based firm. He
retired from that firm, now known as Coughlin Stoia Geller
Rudman & Robbins LLP, last year before agreeing to plead guilty
in the kickbacks case.
New York-based Milberg Weiss and the firm's co-founder,
Melvyn Weiss, have been indicted on kickbacks-related charges.
They have pleaded not guilty and a trial is set for later this
On Monday, an 80-year-old California investor who acted as
a plaintiff in class-action suits brought by Milberg, was
sentenced to six months of home confinement and two years of
probation after pleading guilty to accepting secret kickbacks
provided by Milberg lawyers.
Prosecutors recommended home detention for the investor,
Seymour Lazar, because of his age and poor health.
(Editing by Maureen Bavdek)