[JURIST] David J. Bershad [corporate profile], former name partner at leading class action law firm Milberg Weiss [corporate website], pleaded guilty [press release] Monday to conspiracy to obstruct justice in a plot in which Milberg Weiss allegedly paid up to $11.3 million in illegal kickbacks since 1984 to individuals to serve as lead plaintiffs in class action and shareholder derivative lawsuits. Also Monday, Milberg Weiss terminated its relationship [press release] with Bershad, who agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors, give back $7.75 million in profits, and pay a $250,000 fine. Bershad's first sentencing hearing is slated for June 23, 2008, and he could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Three individuals have already pleaded guilty in the case [JURIST report]. Milberg Weiss, which has pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to fraud and conspiracy charges, is the largest US law firm ever indicted [JURIST report]. The firm allegedly collected fees of $216.1 million in cases where the firm is accused of illegal payments. The New York Times has more.