Tuesday, August 12, 2008

LA Lawyer Gets Prison in Lawsuit Kickbacks Case

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A lawyer who pleaded guilty to a federal tax offense as part of a major lawsuit kickback scheme was sentenced Monday to two months in federal prison and fined $50,000.

Richard Russell Purtich, who cooperated with prosecutors, apologized at his sentencing.


"I deeply, deeply apologize to the court and to all those I've affected by my conduct," he said.

Purtich was ordered to surrender to prison authorities by Sept. 22. U.S. District Judge John Walter rejected requests from the prosecution and defense that Purtich receive probation.

Purtich, 56, had been accused of acting as an intermediary through which the New York-based Milberg Weiss firm paid a former client more than $2.5 million in fees for acting as a plaintiff in several class actions.

He pleaded guilty in 2006 to interfering with the administration of federal tax laws. Purtich admitted that he did not inform the Internal Revenue Service of about $900,000 in payments that he had received from Milberg Weiss and then forwarded to a former Beverly Hills eye doctor.

Purtich was one of the first defendants to plead guilty in the case involving lawsuits against some of the nation's biggest corporations. The investigation also led to guilty pleas by a co-founder and three former partners at Milberg Weiss.



The State Bar of California has suspended Purtich's law license and is likely to disbar him. He now works as a contract paralegal.


...which he absolutely should not be doing. Seriously, who would hire a suspended lawyer to do paralegal work? He obviously does not follow a code of ethics, and he is no more likely to do so in a paralegal role.

I'm sure I've said it once, but I'll say it again: disciplined lawyers should not be working as paralegals. They have already proved themselves untrustworthy with legal matters, and for lawyers hiring them, they are inviting trouble into their practices. For consumers of legal services, it is a huge disservice to them, and many of them do not even know that a disciplined lawyer is working on their case.


(Source: The Associated Press)

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