Legal newspaper: Lerach and Weiss turned down plea agreement

The Los Angeles Daily Journal is reporting that Bill Lerach and Melvyn Weiss, the nation’s two most famous class action attorneys, have each turned down a plea agreement that would have required them to serve three to four years in prison. The Daily Journal story (subscription only) is available here, but Reuters also has a summary of it here. The Daily Journal attributes the information to “attorneys involved in the case.”

The most interesting news in the Journal article that isn’t in the Reuters one is that the offer, presented to the attorneys by Los Angeles federal prosecutors, called for them to plead guilty to either “obstruction of justice or conspiracy” charges. The 2005 indictment of Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, the firm Weiss and Lerach once co-ran, does not mention obstruction of justice. My colleague Peter Elkind’s November 2006 feature story about the investigation is here.

Lerach’s attorney declined to comment to the Daily Journal, while Ben Brafman, Weiss’s attorney, told it, “I don’t want to really go into any discussion of what [prosecutors] have or have not done. I don’t want to go there.”

Mel Weiss is with the firm currently known as Milberg Weiss & Bershad, while Lerach is with Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins.

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