Famed plaintiff's lawyer Melvyn I. Weiss, founding partner of New York-based Milberg Weiss LLP, agreed to plead guilty today to a federal racketeering charge and could face up to 33 months in prison.


Weiss also acknowledged he hid secret payment arrangements the firm made with named plaintiffs in class action lawsuits.


In the agreement, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Weiss agreed to forfeit $9.75 million that he received from illegal paybacks, and pay a $250,000 fine. Milberg Weiss has one Los Angeles office, which houses seven lawyers.


Former Milberg Weiss partners William S. Lerach, David J. Bershad and Steven G. Schulman have already plead guilty to the secret kick-back scheme. In February, a judge sentenced Lerach, a San Diego-based attorney, to two years in federal prison. Bershad and Schulman are scheduled to be sentenced later this year.


The Milberg Weiss firm and attorney Paul T. Seltzer are the two remaining defendants in the case. Both are set to go to trial in August.

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