LOS ANGELES — A federal judge has sentenced Richard Purtich, a Los Angeles lawyer who pleaded guilty in the government’s criminal kickback case against Milberg, to two months in prison, despite requests from his lawyer and federal prosecutors to give him probation.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge John Walter of the Central District of California sentenced Purtich to prison time, plus an additional year of supervised release, and ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine.
Purtich pleaded guilty two years ago to a tax charge, admitting that he failed to report to the Internal Revenue Service about $900,000 he received from Milberg and passed on to Steve Cooperman, a lead plaintiff in several of the firm’s cases. In the case, prosecutors claimed that Cooperman, who pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge last year, received payments from William Lerach — a former partner at Milberg, formerly known as Milberg Weiss — who pleaded guilty last year to a federal conspiracy charge and is serving a sentence of two years in prison.
In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors had recommended that Purtich receive one year probation, with no home confinement, given his extensive cooperation in the case. They also noted that Purtich lost his license to practice law about two years ago. They recommended a $50,000 fine.
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, for the Central District of California, declined to comment.
Purtich’s lawyer, William Genego, a partner at Santa Monica, Calif.-based Nasatir Hirsch Podberesky and Genego, did not return a call for comment.
In a sentencing memorandum, Genego had recommended that Purtich receive probation.
Under the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines, Purtich could have faced 21 to 27 months in prison. The probation office had recommended a $200,000 fine.