FEBRUARY 12, 2008
A prominent California attorney who got Bill Clinton to veto legislation that would hurt his business and has donated generously to the Democratic Party will go to jail for two years for conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Crowned “King of the Shareholder Suit,” William Lerach made his fortune winning billions of dollars for defrauded investors in class-action cases against some of America’s biggest corporations, including Enron. He also operated an illegal scheme by filing class actions on behalf of ready-made plaintiffs who received kickbacks.
Lerach’s firm made an estimated $250 million in fees over two decades by filing these kinds of illegal lawsuits and paying people, who agreed to be plaintiffs in actions against companies such as Xerox and United Airlines, a total of $11.3 million.
For years Lerach was among the nation’s top paid attorneys ($7 million a year, according to Forbes) and a generous Democratic donor who befriended Bill Clinton while he was president. Lerach and his wife have given Democrats hundreds of thousands of dollars, including several thousand to Hillary’s Clinton’s various campaigns.
When the Clinton’s lived in the White House, Lerach got Bill to veto a popular tort reform bill (Securities Litigation Reform Act) that had bipartisan support because it would negatively impact his lucrative law business. Congress overrode the veto which makes it more difficult for shareholders to sue their own companies for securities fraud.
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