Saying that more indictments might be coming, the federal judge overseeing the case against class-action law firm Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman has postponed setting a date for the five defendants already facing charges.
At a status conference in Los Angeles, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter expressed frustration that the government’s investigation had already gone on for more than six years, but said that he would wait until the next conference, scheduled for Nov. 27, to set a trial date. One attorney, for defendant Seymour Lazar, has already filed a motion asking that charges against his client be dismissed for failure to receive a speedy trial. Lazar pleaded not guilty to charges filed last year that he had received $2.4 million in illegal kickbacks in exchange for serving or recruiting his family members to serve as lead plaintiff in more than 50 class action suits. A federal grand jury indicted two former Milberg partners, David Bershad and Steven Schulman, earlier this year in a 20-count indictment. Prosecutors allege that the law firm and the two men paid at least $11.3 million over a 25-year period to clients. The law firm has vehemently denied all the charges and both men have entered not guilty pleas. The loudest rumors for further indictments have floated the name of William S. Lerach, a former partner who departed in 2004 to found his own class-action firm. Walter said earlier this summer that he expected to set a start date for the trial late next year.
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