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High-Profile Trial Lawyer Agrees to Guilty Plea

•  Headline News     updated  2008/03/21 15:19

Prominent attorney Melvyn Weiss has agreed to plead guilty to a racketeering charge in a lucrative kickback scheme involving payments to plaintiffs in class-action lawsuits targeting some of the largest corporations in the nation, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Weiss, 72, also will acknowledge that he and others concealed secret payment arrangements that his firm, Milberg Weiss, had with named plaintiffs in the lawsuits, prosecutors said in a statement.

Under a plea deal, he could be sentenced to up to 33 months in prison and pay $10 million.

His firm dominated the industry in securities class-action lawsuits, which involve shareholders who claim they suffered losses because executives misled them about a company's financial condition.

Authorities said the firm made an estimated $250 million over two decades by filing legal actions on behalf of professional plaintiffs who received $11.3 million in kickbacks.

Weiss' plea deal was confirmed by attorney Benjamin Brafman, who represents Weiss.

Brafman did not specify the charges involved in the plea but said in a statement his client would admit "limited participation in a criminal conspiracy" involving payments to plaintiffs.

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