The former head of Milberg Weiss Bershad & Shulman (now known as Milberg), Melvyn Weiss was sentenced to 30 months in prison today (Monday 2 June) for his role in a kickbacks scheme relating to securities class action cases.
The sentence is just three months off the maximum requested by prosecutors and a year longer than the minimum (18 months) sought by Weiss’ defence team.
In April, Weiss pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge as part of an agreement with prosecutors. Today, along with the prison sentence, Weiss was also ordered by US district judge John Walter to pay $9.7m in forfeitures and $250,000 in fines.
Weiss apologised for what he described as his “wrongful conduct”, adding, “I promise you my contrition is profound and genuine”.
Weiss’ firm was indicted in 2006 May by Los Angeles federal prosecutors for allegedly paying referral fees to named plaintiffs in shareholder lawsuits.
According to government filings, Weiss personally profited to the tune of $210m over more than 20 years by filing legal actions on behalf of professional plaintiffs who in turn received millions in kickbacks.
Fellow name partners, David Bershad and Steven Schulman were also indicted along with Weiss in 2006, both pleading guilty.
In February this year, another former Milberg partner, the high-profile Bill Lerach was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to a felony conspiracy.
Weiss’ former firm is believed to be working towards a settlement deal with a fine expected in the region of $75m.