Exclusive: New details in Milberg Weiss obstruction of justice case

The government accuses Mel Weiss of withholding a fax responsive to a subpoena that would have corroborated Hillel Cooperman’s claims of kickbacks hidden as options to purchase art. From the National Law Journal ($):

Prosecutors claim that Bershad, in response to the government’s 2002 subpoena, called Weiss to his office after discovering the fax and other documents in his desk drawer. “Weiss took them from Bershad, falsely stating, ‘David, you had nothing to do with the art option,'” prosecutors claimed in their recent motion. “Weiss then put the documents in his safe, concealing them from Milberg Weiss’ document custodian who was searching for documents responsive to the subpoena.”

Weiss then allegedly locked the documents in his safe. David Bershad has pled guilty, and is presumably the source for this conversation. Given the role of fundraising the law firm plays in Democratic politics (including for the two leading contenders for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and for John Edwards), one wonders why the only coverage of the ongoing scandal is in for-subscription legal papers. We have uploaded the government’s brief in opposition to Milberg Weiss’s motion to dismiss the obstruction-of-justice charge:

In truth, however, Bershad found the 11/15/1990
telefax when searching for documents responsive to the grand jury subpoena;
Weiss took the document from Bershad and locked it in his safe, intending to
conceal it from the Grand Jury; Weiss caused his attorney to falsely represent to
the USAO that the document was a personal document of Weiss that he had
forgotten in his personal safe since the time of the art option transaction; and,
relying on these fraudulent representations, Weiss asserted a Fifth Amendment
act-of-production privilege and conditioned the disclosure of the document to the
USAO on an agreement that guaranteed it could not be disclosed to the Grand Jury
or otherwise directly used against him or the firm. These facts, when proven at
trial, will unquestionably establish a violation of § 1503.

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