William Lerach, genius promoter of extortionate class-action litigation in the United States, spent two years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false declarations under oath.
Now that he’s out of prison, Lerach seems to be trying to refurbish his reputation by casting his war against Wall Street as a progressive act. He speaks today at America’s Future Now! conference, a gathering of left-leaning activists organized by the Campaign for America’s Future.
From the agenda:
We know that self-styled progressives are all in favor of the redistribution of wealth, but do they really want to affiliate themselves with the class-action lawyer model of that redistribution?
William S. Lerach – lecturer, writer and investor advocate.
For decades, Mr. Lerach was one of the leading securities lawyers in the United States. He headed up the prosecution of hundreds of securities class and stockholder derivative actions which resulted in billions of dollars of recoveries for defrauded shareholders from Wall Street banks, big accounting firms, corporations and insurance companies. Mr. Lerach has been the subject of considerable media attention and is a frequent commentator on economic and political matters and securities and corporate law. His career was recently chronicled in the best-selling book “Circle of Greed.”
The subject of considerable media attention! How’s that for spin?
A reminder of his guilty plea and conspiratorial activities as a partner with Milberg Weiss, from the U.S. Attorney’s office a Sept. 18, 2007, news release, “WILLIAM LERACH, FORMER NAME PARTNER IN MILBERG WEISS, TO PLEAD GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO OBSTRUCT JUSTICE AND MAKE FALSE STATEMENTS TO FEDERAL JUDGES ACROSS U.S.“:
William S. Lerach, formerly a name partner in the law firm now known as Milberg Weiss, has agreed to plead guilty to a federal conspiracy charge and acknowledge that he and others agreed to conceal from judges in federal courts Milberg Weiss’ secret payment arrangements with named plaintiffs in class-action lawsuits.
Lerach, a 61-year-old resident of Rancho Santa Fe, California, was charged in a criminal information filed this morning in United States District Court with conspiring to obstruct justice and to make false statements under oath. In a plea agreement also filed this morning, Lerach agreed to plead guilty to the conspiracy charge, to forfeit $7.75 million to the government, to pay a $250,000 fine, and to accept a sentence ranging from one year to two years in federal prison.
The case against Lerach is part of an ongoing investigation that last year led to the indictment of Milberg Weiss and two of its name partners for allegedly participating in a scheme in which several individuals were paid millions of dollars in secret kickbacks in exchange for serving as named plaintiffs in more than 150 class-action and shareholder derivative-action lawsuits. The indictment alleges that the firm received well over $200 million in attorneys’ fees from these lawsuits over the past 20 years.
UPDATE: Ira Stoll reported this news first at Future of Capitalism.