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Former Milberg Witness To Plead Guilty to Perjury
By Nathan Koppel
The Wall Street Journal
Friday, February 29, 2008

John Torkelsen, a former expert witness used by Milberg Weiss LLP and other plaintiffs class-actions firms, has agreed to plead guilty to a perjury charge for making false statements in federal court.

The plea agreement, filed yesterday in federal court in Pennsylvania, raises questions about class-action cases pursued in the '90s by law firms including Milberg, which has been indicted for allegedly paying kickbacks to its clients.

The firm is fighting the charges.

Mr. Torkelsen's plea isn't expected to have an impact on the continuing Milberg prosecution, according to people familiar with the situation.

Milberg Weiss used Mr. Torkelsen, as did other firms, to provide expert testimony in support of the damages allegedly suffered by shareholders in securities-fraud cases.

Firms told courts that Mr. Torkelsen was an independent expert, but he allegedly was paid a share of any recovery in a case, meaning that he had an incentive to inflate shareholders' damages, according to the government.  Law firms concealed from judges their payment arrangement with Mr. Torkelsen, according to the government.

"It is simply unacceptable for anyone involved in litigation to lie to the courts," said Thomas O'Brien, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, whose office led the investigation.

Ralph Caccia, Mr. Torkelsen's attorney, didn't return a call for comment;  a spokeswoman for Milberg didn't comment.

Mr. Torkelsen is currently in federal prison after being convicted of unrelated charges.

Write to Nathan Koppel at