Interesting, but not surprising, that the law firm that is suing Trump University has close ties to the Clinton’s. The founder of the firm is a criminal who served a two-year sentence in federal prison for his role in a massive kickback scheme in class-action lawsuits.
WND reported that William Lerach, best known for winning more than $7 billion in legal settlements of a class action suit he brought against Enron, was found guilty in 2007 of a kickback scheme in which he his firm used intermediaries to pay clients with large stock portfolios a percentage of the law firm’s $11.3 million profits for agreeing to be plaintiffs in 225 class action and shareholder lawsuits, spanning the period 1979 to 2005, .
Lerach’s former law firm, the once prestigious New York-based Milberg, Weiss, Bershad & Schulman, made an estimated $250 million in the criminal class-action scheme.
WND reported documents released Wednesday in the lawsuit accusing Trump University of fraud confirmed the law firm behind the suit paid Bill and Hillary Clinton a total of $675,000 for speeches.
In addition to prison, Lerach was ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and to complete 1,000 hours of community service for agreeing to plead guilty as charged.
On Dec. 21, 2007, the California Bar declared Lerach “not eligible to practice law,” and he later was disbarred and prohibited from practicing law in California by order of the California Supreme Court.
The participants in the Milberg Weiss scheme agreed to allege as lead plaintiffs in the class action lawsuits that they suffered losses because executives misled them about a company’s financial condition.
Targeted in Lerach’s scheme were some of the nation’s largest corporations of that era, including AT&T, Lucent, WorldCom, Microsoft and Prudential Insurance.
The Associated Press reported that also pleading guilty in the case was Seymour Lazar, then 80 years old, a client of Milberg Weiss who was paid an estimated $2.6 million by the law firm between 1976 and 2004 for agreeing to be a repeat plaintiff in stock fraud cases brought by the firm against targeted corporations.
“Lerach’s huge class-action wins – against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., AT&T Corp., Honeywell International Inc. and Apple Computer Inc., among others – made him unpopular with corporate executives, who slammed his cases as meritless shakedowns,” the Los Angeles Times reported in 2007. “Success also made him a millionaire many times over (his fees in suits against Enron Corp. alone could ultimately total more than $1 billion) and a generous Democratic campaign contributor.”
The Washington Examiner reported in 2008 that Lerach attempted in a letter inadvertently made public by his own attorneys to excuse his criminal behavior by claiming that “everybody was paying plaintiffs” kickbacks when he was practicing.
The Washington Post reported that year the Milberg Weiss firm agreed to pay the federal government $75 million to avoid criminal prosecution by settling a Department of Justice criminal investigation against the law firm in the kickback case.
In total, seven Milberg Weiss lawyers, including three former partners, pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the case.
Read the full story here.