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A federal judge on Monday denied a request by former plaintiffs lawyer Bill Lerach to take an extended vacation to Europe with friends and family members next summer, after he completes his 24-month prison sentence. Federal prosecutors opposed the trip because Lerach had yet to settle the specifics of the 1,000 hours of community service he is required to complete. U.S. District Judge John Walter sided with prosecutors. “I conceptually don’t have a problem with the trip, but it just seems to be the cart before the horse,” he said. In court, Lerach’s lawyer, Michael Lipman, of Coughlan, Semmer & Lipman in San Diego, said the ruling means that Lerach would “either have to wait ’til just before the trip or postpone it.” The judge was more optimistic. He instructed Lerach’s lawyer to file his request again once the community service specifics have been arranged. Once that’s done, he said, he didn’t “see why there isn’t sufficient time to plan the trip.” Lerach, 63, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy as part of a scheme in which he and other members of the former Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach paid kickbacks to lead plaintiffs in securities cases. Melvyn Weiss, the firm’s founder, who has been serving a 30-month prison sentence in Miami, is scheduled for release on Feb. 6. Lerach has been serving home confinement since Dec. 26. In September, he was moved from a federal prison in Arizona to a halfway house in San Diego. Lerach, who has been living on his investment income, is scheduled two begin two years’ supervised release on March 8. He filed papers last month seeking court approval for travel to 18 cities in five European countries. His companions would include his wife, his son, his daughter and her companion, his wife’s parents, two grandchildren, his older brother and his brother’s wife, his brother’s two children, his aunt and her three daughters, according to the motion. Lerach would be the last of the firm’s lawyers named in the government’s criminal case against Milberg Weiss to be released from prison. Two other former name partners, David Bershad and Steven Schulman, were released in July after completing sentences of six months each.

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