The San Diego attorney once feared by corporations is headed to a federal prison for his role in a kickback scheme involving class-action lawsuits. Lerach, 61, also was given two years probation, fined $250,000 and ordered to complete 1,000 hours of community service. He pleaded guilty last fall to a felony count of conspiring to obstruct justice and to submit false testimony. "I pleaded guilty in this case because I was guilty," Lerach said before sentencing in a federal court in L.A. "It was, as they say, felony stupid." Here's more from AP:
"This whole conspiracy corrupted the law firm and it corrupted it in the most evil way," U.S. District Judge John Walter said during the hearing. Authorities said Lerach's former firm, now known as Milberg Weiss, made an estimated $250 million over two decades by filing legal actions on behalf of professional plaintiffs who received kickbacks. The firm paid $11.3 million in kickbacks to people who became plaintiffs in lawsuits targeting companies such as AT&T, Lucent, WorldCom, Microsoft and Prudential Insurance, prosecutors said.
Lerach has questioned whether his wrongdoing should be considered a criminal offense. "Nobody was ever prosecuted for this in the history of the world," he told the WSJ.