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The New York law firm Milberg Weiss accused of paying kickbacks to plaintiffs in class action and shareholder lawsuits said Wednesday that one of its partners will be indicted and more charges will be filed against the firm. He firm said in a statement that it has learned Melvyn Weiss, who helped start the firm, will be charged in connection with the seven-year federal investigation. “Mr. Weiss has decided to discontinue his participation in firm management in order to focus on the defense of the charges against him,” the firm’s statement said. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, where the case will be tried, declined to comment when contacted. It wasn’t immediately known if Weiss had hired an attorney to represent him. Weiss would be the latest lawyer from the prestigious firm to be indicted. On Tuesday, prosecutors said William Lerach agreed to plead guilty to a federal conspiracy charge that could bring a sentence ranging from one year to two years in federal prison. His arraignment is pending. In July, David Bershad pleaded guilty to conspiracy and will be sentenced early next year. Prosecutors accuse the firm of secretly paying more than $11 million in kickbacks to get people to take part in more than 150 class action and shareholder lawsuits, allowing its lawyers to be among the first to file litigation and secure the lucrative position as lead plaintiffs’ counsel. Prosecutors believe the firm netted more than $200 million in fees during a 20-year period. The case stems from an ongoing federal probe that led to last year’s indictment of the firm once known as Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman and two of its partners. The firm and former partner, Stephen Schulman, pleaded not guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges. Trial is scheduled for January and a hearing is set for Friday. Former physician Steven G. Cooperman also pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge for his role as a plaintiff in the alleged kickback scheme. Lerach, 61, and Weiss targeted some of the nation’s largest companies in litigation, including AT&T, Lucent, WorldCom, Sears, Roebuck, Microsoft, Prudential Insurance and Lincoln Savings & Loan. Lerach acknowledged making secret payments to Cooperman, and that other plaintiffs received payments – generally 10 percent of the attorneys’ fees – from other Milberg Weiss partners, according to his plea agreement. In a statement, Lerach said that he had “regrettably crossed a line and pushed too far.”

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