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LOS ANGELES — Seymour Lazar, the first person to be charged in the government’s criminal case against Milberg Weiss, agreed to plead guilty on Thursday morning to three charges. Lazar, a name plaintiff in the firm’s class action lawsuits from 1976 to 2004, is the latest person to plead guilty in the case, which alleges that Milberg Weiss and seven of its lawyers conspired to obtain $250 million in attorney fees by paying kickbacks to lead plaintiffs. In court papers filed yesterday, Lazar agreed to plead guilty to one count of filing false tax returns and one count of obstruction of justice. He also admitted he made false statements in court and agreed to forfeit about $1.5 million in alleged kickbacks. He entered his plea agreement on Thursday morning. Specifically, Lazar admitted that he failed to divulge in his tax returns about $175,000 in kickbacks he received from Milberg Weiss. In court, he did not disclose kickback payments in a 1999 case against Xerox Corp. He also admitted that he directed his accountant and tax return preparer to destroy documents that were subpoenaed in 2002 at his home in Palm Springs, Calif. His personal attorney, Paul Selzer, who is charged in the Milberg Weiss case, is in discussions with federal prosecutors to reach a plea deal. Earlier this month, Steven Schulman, a former Milberg Weiss partner, pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge. Last month, William Lerach, another former Milberg Weiss partner, agreed to plead guilty to a federal conspiracy charge. Two others, David Bershad, a former partner at Milberg Weiss, and Steve Cooperman, a name plaintiff for the firm, each pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge earlier this year. Prosecutors also have charged Melvyn Weiss, the founding partner of Milberg Weiss, with conspiracy, racketeering, obstruction of justice and making false statements to a grand jury. Milberg Weiss is fighting charges against the firm. In documents filed with the plea agreement, Lazar and Bershad had agreed that he would receive 10% of attorney fees in the cases in which he was a name plaintiff. The payments were made through an intermediary law firm and disguised as “referral” fees. Federal prosecutors had charged Lazar with multiple counts that included conspiracy, racketeering, mail fraud, money laundering, filing false tax returns and obstruction of justice. Lazar faces a maximum sentence of 18 years in federal prison. Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, said in an emailed statement: “We’re pleased that Mr. Lazar has taken responsibility for his actions.” Lazar’s attorney, Thomas Bienert, a partner at Bienert & Miller in San Clemente, Calif., did not return calls.

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