Class-action lawyer William Lerach will serve two years in prison for his role in a kickback scheme at his former employer Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, according to press reports.
The attorney, who once led a $7 billion case against Enron, had won the ire of the corporate community through what was viewed as a lawsuit-trigger finger during the peak of his career. His legacy fell apart last year, however, when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice and admitted to secretly paying off plaintiffs in some of his former firm’s 150 shareholder lawsuits.
Under his plea deal, he doesn’t have to cooperate with the investigation into the firm, whose former partners have also been accused of similar actions, including Melvyn Weiss, the online edition of the Wall Street Journal said. (Lerach, 61, whose activities once led defendants to say that they had been “Lerached,” previously worked for the firm that was known as Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach.)
On Monday, U.S. District Judge John Walter also ordered Lerach to serve two years of probation, work 1,000 hours in community service, and pay $250,000, according to the Associated Press. “I pleaded guilty in this case because I was guilty,” the AP quoted Lerach as saying before being sentenced. “It was, as they say, felony stupid.”
Lerach’s attorneys had asked Walter on Friday to give Lerach a lighter sentence: six months in prison and six months in home confinement.