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Weiss gets prison for legal scheme
By Greg Risling, AP
Denver Post
Tuesday, June 3, 2008

LOS ANGELES Melvyn Weiss, the co-founder of a law firm known for securities class-action suits, was sentenced Monday to 30 months in prison for his role in a lucrative lawsuit kickback scheme targeting some of the largest corporations in the nation.

U.S. District Judge John F. Walter also ordered Weiss, 72, to pay $9.7 million in forfeitures and $250,000 in fines.

In a prepared, handwritten statement read before sentencing, Weiss apologized for his "wrongful conduct" and described his conviction as a fall from grace.

"I promise you my contrition is profound and genuine," he said.

Weiss pleaded guilty to a racketeering-conspiracy charge in April as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

Prosecutors had asked for a 33-month sentence.  Weiss and his attorneys had sought a reduced sentence, citing his age and contributions.

Authorities said the law firm made about $250 million over two decades by filing legal actions on behalf of professional plaintiffs who received $11.3 million in kickbacks.

Securities class-action suits involve shareholders who claim they suffered losses because executives misled them about a company's financial condition.