Plaintiff Says He Conspired With Milberg
By Nathan Koppel
The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, February 1, 2007
A Connecticut man agreed to plead guilty to conspiring with
the law firm Milberg Weiss & Bershad LLP and several of its
partners to obstruct justice and make false statements in
class action lawsuits it handled.
Under the agreement filed in federal court in Los Angeles,
Steven G. Cooperman, 64 years old, will admit he received
payments from Milberg Weiss to serve as lead plaintiff in
numerous class actions filed on behalf of shareholders
against publicly traded companies.
In May, the firm -- with principal offices in New York and
an office in Los Angeles -- was indicted on fraud charges
for allegedly paying illegal kickbacks to lead plaintiffs in
class-action lawsuits. Representatives of the firm have
According to a release issued by the U.S. attorney's office
in Los Angeles, Mr. Cooperman and several relatives and
associates served as named plaintiffs in about 70 class
actions and shareholder-derivative actions brought by
Milberg Weiss from 1988 to 2003. According to court
documents signed by the prosecutor and Mr. Cooperman,
Milberg Weiss got more than $133 million in lawyers fees as
a result of these lawsuits and "secretly" paid Mr. Cooperman
more than $6.4 million in kickback payments.
According to the government, Mr. Cooperman has in the past
cooperated with prosecutors on this matter. But prosecutors
say Mr. Cooperman allegedly committed "additional crimes"
while serving a prison sentence for insurance fraud that
violated terms of his earlier agreement. "He committed some
acts that revealed a lack of judgment while in prison," says
Russell Gioiella, Mr. Cooperman's lawyer. "Because of those
errors, the government revoked the plea agreement."
William Taylor III, a lawyer representing Milberg Weiss,
called Mr. Cooperman's statements about the firm "not new,"
stating: "They have never been credible, and they are no
more so today."
Write to Nathan Koppel