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LOS ANGELES � Federal prosecutors in the Milberg Weiss case filed court papers on Monday opposing the New York securities firm’s recent motions to dismiss and revealed new details about a fax at the heart of the government’s case. Prosecutors allege that Milberg Weiss and seven of its lawyers paid $11 million in illegal kickbacks to lead plaintiffs. Last month, Milberg Weiss filed motions to dismiss some of the charges. Melvyn Weiss, founding partner of Milberg Weiss who was indicted last year, joined in several of those motions. One of the motions at issue deals with a fax that was subpoenaed in 2002 as part of the government’s investigation. Milberg Weiss denied that the fax, discovered in a safe in Weiss’ office, was deliberately withheld. Further, the firm said it could not be held liable for a document that involved Weiss’ personal matters and noted that prosecutors eventually received the fax. The fax, dated more than a decade ago, was sent to then-Milberg Weiss partner David Bershad from Steve Cooperman, a named plaintiff in several Milberg Weiss cases, and relates to an arrangement in which Weiss agreed to pay Cooperman $175,000 for having served as a plaintiff in a case. He disguised the payment as a refundable option on the purchase of a Picasso painting owned by Cooperman, according to prosecutors. In court papers filed on Monday, prosecutors assert for the first time that Weiss and Milberg Weiss deliberately withheld the fax as a defense strategy to hold up the investigation, which relied on the testimony of Cooperman, who had a criminal record. They said that “Milberg Weiss and Weiss knew that any indictment of Weiss would rely heavily on Cooperman’s proffered testimony concerning the phony art option payment. As these defendants also knew, Cooperman’s criminal background made his uncorroborated testimony insufficient evidence upon which to base an indictment. Thus, defendant’s strategy was to frustrate the grand jury’s ability to corroborate Cooperman’s proffered testimony, while at the same time vigorously attacking Cooperman’s credibility.” New details in the government’s motion outline how the fax was withheld. Prosecutors claim that Bershad, in response to the government’s 2002 subpoena, called Weiss to his office after discovering the fax and other documents in his desk drawer. “Weiss took them from Bershad, falsely stating, ‘David, you had nothing to do with the art option,’” prosecutors claimed in their recent motion. “Weiss then put the documents in his safe, concealing them from Milberg Weiss’ document custodian who was searching for documents responsive to the subpoena.” In a separate motion filed on Monday, prosecutors continued to assert that the indictment involves a single conspiracy, not separate ones based on four named plaintiffs, because “the ultimate goal � to obtain sizeable attorney’s fees awards in the lawsuits and divide them among the participants � remained constant throughout the conspiracy.” In other motions, prosecutors oppose Milberg Weiss’ challenge over violations of a New York commercial bribery statute, one money laundering count and the government’s “honest services” mail fraud theory.

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