Last Minute: Can Milberg Ward Off Indictment?

It looked like Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman and two of its name partners were finally going to be indicted today. As of last night, the attempt to head off indictments with a non-prosecution agreement seemed dead, and the L.A. U.S. attorney announced a press conference for 12:15 this afternoon.

Then the backstage scramble started. First, the press conference was delayed until 1 p.m. Then 2 p.m.

It's not clear whether the delay is the result of last-minute haggling. [Updated: We'd heard from a "source close to the case" (term of art) that there was a last-minute conference call about the indictments. We later heard from a source closer to the case that there wasn't.] But in recent weeks Milberg has balked at prosecutors’ demands that it pay $150 million or so in fines, admit some degree of wrongdoing, waive attorney-client privilege in the ongoing probe, and adhere to restrictions on the way it handles clients to avoid an indictment that could quickly put one of the nation’s top plaintiff firms out of business.

Sources close to the case said the firm and partners David Bershad and Steven Schulman expected to be indicted today, possibly with two or more other minor players who have been negotiating plea deals in recent weeks. But that could all be up in the air if a nonprosecution deal is reached, since such an arrangement would change the track of the government’s investigation, perhaps giving prosecutors an incentive to delay indictments as they pursue new information made available by the firm.

Justin Scheck


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