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LOS ANGELES – The Milberg Weiss case is staying in Los Angeles. On Thursday, a federal judge in Los Angeles rejected a request by Melvyn Weiss to transfer the government’s criminal case against him and his firm, Milberg Weiss, to New York. “Given the considerable amount of time and resources that this court has already expended on this case, it would be a waste of judicial resources and against the interest of justice for a judge in a different district to spend the time necessary to learn the intricacies of what defendants admit is an extremely complex case,” wrote U.S. District Judge John Walter, for the Central District of California, which is prosecuting the case. In October, Weiss had urged the judge to move the case to the Southern District of New York, arguing that dozens of potential witnesses, including employees at Milberg Weiss, live in New York, where the firm is based. Further, many of the acts alleged in the indictment took place in New York, not California. Weiss has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges. In a statement issued on Thursday, Weiss’ lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, a partner at New York-based Brafman & Associates, said: “I am disappointed with the Court’s decision denying our motion to transfer the trial of Mr. Weiss to New York,” said. “Nevertheless, I remain confident that no jury, whether sitting in New York or in Los Angeles, once it has the opportunity to hear all of the evidence to be presented in this case, will ever convict such an extraordinary man as Melvyn I. Weiss.” Marina Ein, a spokeswoman who issued Brafman’s statement and represents Milberg Weiss, said the firm had no further statement. In his order, Walter considered Paul Selzer, a California lawyer for one of the paid plaintiffs in the case who remains a defendant and has opposed a change of venue. Walter also questioned whether all of the potential witnesses in New York would actually testify in the case. Instead, he agreed with federal prosecutors that several of the key witnesses are in California. Further, he said, the locations of the alleged acts in the case are irrelevant since “this is not a case in which the jurors might benefit from a visit to a crime scene or might require some understanding of local geography or culture.” The government’s motion opposing the change of venue was joined by former Milberg Weiss partner David Bershad, named plaintiffs Howard Vogel and Steve Cooperman, and Richard Purtich, who served as an intermediary lawyer for Cooperman in the kickback payments. All have pleaded guilty. Steven Schulman, another former Milberg Weiss partner who pleaded guilty in September, filed a separate motion opposing the change of venue. “We’re pleased that the judge sided with our position,” said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

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