U.S. Department of Justice|
Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California
United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2005
For Information, Contact Public Affairs|
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947
Los Angeles, CA - A retired lawyer has been charged by a federal grand jury with participating in a scheme by which he received approximately $2.4 million in secret and illegal kickback payments in exchange for serving and causing his family members to serve as named plaintiffs in more than 50 class action and shareholder derivative action lawsuits over a period of approximately 20 years.
The grand jury indictment, which was unsealed today in United States District Court in Los Angeles, charges Seymour M. Lazar, 78, of Palm Springs, with conspiring to obstruct justice and to defraud the absent class members and shareholders in the lawsuits in which Lazar or one of his family members served as a named plaintiff. The indictment alleges that, to conceal the illegal kickback scheme from the courts presiding over such lawsuits, the other parties to such lawsuits, and the absent class members and shareholders whose interests Lazar and his family members purported to represent, Lazar made false and misleading statements in under-oath depositions and in documents Lazar signed under penalty of perjury. The indictment further alleges that the illegal kickbacks were secretly paid to Lazar through various intermediary law firms and lawyers selected by Lazar, who used and applied the kickback payments at Lazar's direction and for his benefit.
The indictment also names lawyer Paul T. Selzer, 64, of Palm Springs, who is alleged to have been one of the intermediary lawyers who laundered the illegal kickback payments for the benefit of Lazar.
The 17-count indictment charges Lazar with one count of conspiring to obstruct justice, to commit mail and wire fraud, and to make illegal payments to a witness; seven substantive mail fraud counts; one count of conspiring to commit money laundering; six substantive money laundering counts; one count of obstructing the grand jury's investigation; and a criminal forfeiture count. Selzer is named as a defendant in the money laundering conspiracy, substantive money laundering, and criminal forfeiture counts.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Lazar surrendered to authorities this morning and is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Riverside, California this afternoon. Selzer will be summoned to appear in federal court in Los Angeles next month.
The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service. The government's investigation is ongoing.
Release No. 05-096
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