Lawyer Admits Bad Stock Trades Cost Most of $2.7M Class Settlement
A California lawyer has withdrawn as counsel in a class action after admitting in court papers that he lost most of the $2.7 million settlement in bad stock trades.
The money was supposed to be distributed to 800 class members who sued ZipRealty, but Irvine lawyer Sandeep Baweja has said he placed it in an Ameritrade brokerage account last spring, the Daily Journal reports (sub. req.). Court papers say Baweja lost all but about $54,000 because of bad investments and the stock market downturn, according to the story.
Baweja said nothing about the case yesterday as he appeared with his wife in a Los Angeles courtroom before U.S. District Judge S. James Otero, the story says. “I’m extremely, extremely disappointed in what occurred here,” Otero said, “but my disappointment pales in comparison to the class.’”
Baweja’s lawyer, Jeffrey Rutherford of Crowell & Moring, said Baweja had borrowed about $560,000 from friends and family in an effort to pay the class claimants. He has notified the state bar and state and federal authorities about his actions.
A story in the Orange County Register says Baweja’s admission has stunned colleagues. He was active in political and professional activities and served as field coordinator for the 2000 Al Gore campaign in Seattle.