Another big Dem donor scandal downplayed by the media

The Washington Post, reports that California lawyer William Lerach is pleading guilty to criminal conspiracy respecting the origins of  plaintiffs' suits in which he made a fortune.

William S. Lerach, one of the nation's best known and wealthiest plaintiff lawyers, is preparing to plead guilty as early as today to a single criminal conspiracy charge that could send him to prison for up to two years, according to sources familiar with the case.

Lerach, 61, resigned from his California law firm last month after intense speculation about his personal exposure in a lengthy federal criminal investigation. At the time, he said he wanted "to focus single-mindedly on putting the matter behind me once and for all."

During his heyday, Lerach won settlements worth billions of dollars from major companies, including a record $7.3 billion payout from firms that helped Enron disguise its financial problems.

For seven years, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have been probing allegations that Lerach and his former partners at the Milberg Weiss law firm enlisted people to buy shares in big corporations and then paid them to serve as plaintiffs in lawsuits. Government lawyers said that the payments, totaling more than $11 million, were not disclosed to judges or other investors and allowed Lerach and his team to arrive first at the courthouse to seize control of the class-action cases and to collect bigger slices of settlements or court victories.
What the story leaves out is the Lerach has a long history of contributing to Democrat candidates and played a significant role in Kerry's campaign:
Desperate to silence the Vietnam vets who oppose his candidacy John Kerry asked William S. Lerach, heavy Democratic Party donor, political thug and enemy of the First Amendment, to deal with the situation. 

True to form this high-powered lawyer (some would say extortionist) went to work by bringing in Fenton Communications. Lerach called a press conference where he used Fenton Communications to falsely charge Sinclair [broadcasting company] directors with "breaches of fiduciary duties".

Missing from the conference were any references or questions concerning Fentons. Perhaps no one, especially Lerach's media friends, wanted to draw attention to the company's communist sympathies and links.

The company was started by David Fenton, a Marxist-Leninist who has been on the payroll of the Soviet-backed Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola and the Soviet-Backed Maurice Bishop who tried to turn Grenada into another Cuba.
Here are the Democrat candidates and committee, Lerach funded.

Note that Fenton Communications has recently scrubbed from its site its connection to Lerach, but the "case study" is cached here.

hat tip: Topsecret


Today’s (9/20/07) Washington Post does manage to mention Lerach's contribution to the Democrats:

He and his firms gave more than $3.6 million to Democrats in the past decade, according to campaign finance records. The firms gave $1.7 million more since the 2002 campaign cycle to "527" issue-advocacy groups, according to CQ MoneyLine. President Bill Clinton spent a night at Lerach's mansion in the late 1990s and later appointed him to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council
Michelle Malkin points readers to this decades old Mother Jones piece:
Attendees at a private White House dinner on December 15 may have seen Bill Clinton and William Lerach speaking and shaking hands. What they probably didn't notice was Lerach twisting the president's arm.

Four days later, the president vetoed the Securities Litigation Reform Act. The bill, which makes it more difficult for shareholders to sue their own companies for securities fraud, enjoyed wide bipartisan support, but Clinton startled his party with a last-minute veto. (In late December, Congress overrode the veto handily.)

Clinton's veto seems to have been a "good faith" gesture to Lerach, head of the San Diego office of law firm Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes & Lerach. Milberg Weiss, the acknowledged leader in shareholder class-action litigation, secures annual settlements estimated at $225 million from this type of suit, according to the newsletter Securities Class Action Alert...

...Lerach, wife Star Soltan, and other associates of Milberg Weiss...have poured more than $1 million into Democratic coffers since 1990. According to Forbes, Lerach is among the nations' top-paid trial attorneys, taking home an estimated $7 million per year. He is also among the most loathed men in Silicon Valley, where vacillating stock prices open the door for shareholders to sue companies if executives make incorrect predictions of corporate success. Milberg Weiss has filed such suits agains the likes of Apple, Silicon Graphics, and Intel (five times in 1994 alone). "The high-tech industry needs someone to demonize," Lerach once told the San Francisco Examiner. "I'm the Willie Horton of securities law."

Well, having glommed onto the Lerach/Dem connection, the Washington Post adds more information, news that may explains the silence of Mr. "Two America's"Edwards:
Though his former law firm came under indictment more than a year ago and he himself appeared likely to face criminal charges, prominent trial lawyer William S. Lerach slipped past the vetting of John Edwards' presidential campaign and was permitted to raise large amounts of money for the Democrat's 2008 bid.

Lerach, his family and members of his new law Lerach Coughlin law firm accounted for nearly $78,000 in donations to Edwards' campaign in the first half of this year, making the trial lawyer one of the North Carolina Democrat's leading "bundlers" of contributions.

In the midst of that fundraising, Lerach negotiated behind the scenes for a plea deal that was consummated on Tuesday and will send him to federal prison for at least 12 months on a conspiracy charge involving his past legal work as partner in the Milberg Weiss law firm.

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