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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

NY Lawyer Pleads for Leniency

Former NY Firm Leader Pleads for Leniency in Sentencing; Colleagues Echo Call
The National Law Journal by Amanda Bronstad - May 27, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Securities plaintiff's lawyer Melvyn Weiss, the convicted co-founding partner of Milberg Weiss, has asked a federal judge to sentence him to a term of 18 months, the minimum term allowable under a plea agreement he reached with federal prosecutors earlier this year.

Federal prosecutors are seeking the maximum under that plea agreement: 33 months. In court filings, prosecutors said they agreed with a pre-sentencing report that concluded an applicable sentencing range to be 33 to 41 months but recommended the lowest end of that range for Weiss. Weiss, who pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 2. Weiss's plea deal is the latest in the government's kickback case, in which prosecutors have alleged that Milberg Weiss, now known as Milberg, and seven of its partners, including Weiss, obtained $251 million in attorney fees by paying kickbacks to lead plaintiffs. In a binding plea agreement reached earlier this year, Weiss agreed to pay about $10 million in fines and forfeiture and serve 18 to 33 months in prison.

In court papers, Weiss's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, of Brafman & Associates, paints a picture of a talented and hard-working lawyer, loyal friend and family man who has been charitable to his community. "His life has been devoted to building a law firm capable of taking on corporate giants who were represented by some of the biggest and best staffed law firms in the country," court papers say. The "criminal conduct he engaged in destroyed his personal legacy and the legacy of the wonderful law firm he helped build, and by his actions caused damage to a legal system to which he devoted so much of his life, talent, and scholarship." In a letter to U.S. District Judge John Walter, Weiss expressed remorse. "Looking up from the bottom of the deep pit into which I have descended has been painful," he wrote. "The ability of our citizens to obtain access to our courts, no matter how rich or poor we are, is one of the hallmarks of our society. The guilt I am feeling knowing that I have violated the law and contributed to doing harm to that access has wounded me enormously."

More than 250 letters were submitted as part of Weiss's sentencing, including former judges, law professors and lawyers, including several who worked at the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. Among those who wrote letters were:

• Leonard Barrack, founding partner of Barrack, Rodos & Bacine
• Fred T. Isquith and Adam Levitt, partners at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz
• Stanley Bernstein, founding partner of Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz
• Kenneth L. Adams, partner at Dickstein Shapiro
• Richard Revesz, dean of the New York University School of Law, where Weiss endowed the loan repayment assistance program
• Stephen Susman, founding partner at Susman Godfrey
• Benedict Morelli, president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association
• Bernard Nussbaum, partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and former counsel to President Clinton in 1993 and 1994

In court filings, prosecutors note that Weiss should receive more prison time than another former Milberg partner, William Lerach, who, earlier this year, was sentenced to two years in prison, the maximum allowable under a plea deal he reached last year. Lerach, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, began serving that sentence this month. Weiss, unlike Lerach, paid $1.22 million to one of the lead plaintiffs, Howard Vogel, as his share of attorney fees while he was under criminal investigation, which "reflects a criminal arrogance that makes Weiss significantly more culpable, and hence deserving of significantly more punishment, than Lerach." Weiss also obstructed the investigation by failing to turn over a fax that prosecutors had requested under a grand jury subpoena, prosecutors said. But they acknowledged that Weiss, at 73, was much older than Lerach and had participated in more philanthropic activities. "Rather than retire as the undisputed and highly respected dean of the plaintiffs' securities bar, Weiss will retire in disgrace as a disbarred lawyers and a convicted felon," they said in court papers.


Anonymous said...

I know how Mel Weiss works, I want to know how much it cost him to have these names listed speak out for him? How much did pay?

I also see the name Bernard Nussbaum on Mel's list. He's the one with Judith Kaye another rat. Mel should pick better names.

Anonymous said...

They really, REALLY need to make BIG examples out of some of these lawyers like Mel W. It's the only way to stop all the crap.

Anonymous said...

Melvin was always a bum and in my opinion always will be a bum. Give him plenty of hard time.

Anonymous said...

Leniency my eye! Hang'm High!

Anonymous said...

let me tell you about Melvin Weiss and his involvement in the Swiss Banking case in Federal Court. In the beginning he CLAIMED HE WAS PRO BONO, that was the beginning. He would push us survivors out of the way in the Court. Meanwhile, the big faker received over $7 MILLION of our money in the form of fees. This is blood money Melvin Weiss, what kind of a Jew are you, you should drop dead for what you did. You stole from survivors!

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