|Melvyn I. Weiss|
August 1, 1935 |
Bronx, New York
Bribery charges and incarceration
At one point Weiss and his law firm dominated the market in securities class-action suits, in which investors who suffer losses typically claim that executives had misled them about a company's financial condition.
On March 20, 2008, Melvyn Weiss announced through his attorney that he would plead guilty to making illegal client kickbacks in exchange for an 18- to 33-month prison sentence and fines and restitution of $10 million.
Prior to his sentencing for what he admitted was “wrongful conduct,” and for which he was “profoundly sorry,” supporters had flooded the Federal court with over 275 letters detailing Weiss' philanthropic history, including his pro bono work resulting in $6.25 billion in settlements he helped win for Holocaust victims. Both the Federal judge hearing the case and U.S. Attorney called the support for Weiss “unprecedented.”
Weiss was sentenced to 30 months of incarceration on Monday June 2, 2008. He served half of his sentence at the minimum security Federal Correctional Institution in Morgantown, West Virginia, with the remainder served under home confinement.
- Koppel, Nathan (2008-03-21). "Class-Action King Weiss to Plead Guilty to Conspiracy". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- Martha Graybow (March 21, 2008). "US shareholder lawyer Melvyn Weiss to plead guilty". Reuters.
- Edvard Pettersson (June 2, 2008). "Weiss Sentenced to 2½ Years for Kickback Scheme (Update1)". Bloomberg L.P.
Weiss, 72, must also forfeit $9.75 million and pay a fine of $250,000. He pleaded guilty April 2 to racketeering conspiracy, admitting he helped secretly pay a stable of plaintiffs to file suits from 1979 through 2005. By using them to sue first, the firm was more likely to lead cases and reap larger fees.