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LOS ANGELES �— Federal prosecutors have filed a motion to keep the Milberg Weiss case in Los Angeles, while Steven Schulman, a former partner at the firm who pleaded guilty in the case in September, has filed a $1.2 million claim for unpaid legal fees against his former employer. In October, Melvyn Weiss, founding partner of Milberg Weiss, sought to move the government’s criminal case to the Southern District of New York. Milberg Weiss, which faces conspiracy and other charges, has joined in that motion. Weiss has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges, which were outlined in an indictment against him filed in September. At a hearing that month, Weiss’ lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, a partner at New York-based Brafman & Associates, told U.S. District Judge John Walter for the Central District of California, who is overseeing the Milberg Weiss case, that there was “no connection between Mr. Weiss and the California case” other than an alleged conversation that took place in Los Angeles several years ago. Further, he said dozens of witnesses and 30 employees at Milberg Weiss reside in New York. Traveling to and from New York would come at an “extraordinary cost to the firm,” he said. In its motion, filed Nov. 27, the government said Weiss’ residence, and the office of Milberg Weiss, have no bearing on where the case takes place, especially since Weiss often works outside of New York and the firm has a Los Angeles office. Moreover, 16 witnesses are in Los Angeles; other witnesses, including several with plea deals in the case, have agreements with prosecutors in Los Angeles. Moving the case to New York would be “extraordinarily burdensome” for prosecutors, the government states. The government’s motion is joined by former Milberg Weiss partner David Bershad, two named plantiffs, Howard Vogel and Steve Cooperman, and Richard Purtich, who served as an intermediary lawyer for Cooperman in the kickback payments. Steven Schulman, a former Milberg Weiss partner who pleaded guilty in September to a federal racketeering charge, filed a separate motion opposing a change of venue, which he said would be “disruptive on its face.” Schulman also filed a claim in New York against Milberg Weiss and Coughlin, Stoia, Geller, Rudman & Robbins seeking legal fees, which he has been receiving since 2003 from his former employer to defend himself in the government’s criminal investigation. Schulman, who resigned from Milberg Weiss in December 2006, said both firms, which agreed to each pay half his fees, stopped paying his lawyers at Stern & Kilcullen and McDermott, Will & Emery after he agreed to plead guilty. Under an agreement, they must pay legal fees unless a partner is convicted of a felony, he said in his suit. Because he agreed to plead guilty, he is entitled to the fees. Instead, “Milberg Weiss now views him as the ‘enemy’ and is seeking to punish and/or weaken him,” he said in court papers. A hearing on the change of venue motions is set for Dec. 14.

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