HOUSTON – A 21-count superseding indictment has been
unsealed alleging conspiracy, witness tampering, obstruction of justice and
multiple tax violations in a barratry scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K.
Houston personal injury attorneys Jeffrey Stern, Deborah
Bradley and Richard Plezia are charged with conspiracy and tax violations along
with legal-assistant Frederick Morris and clinic-owner Lamont Ratcliff. Stern
is also charged with witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
Stern made his initial appearance yesterday and was
temporarily ordered into custody pending a detention hearing set for Aug. 22,
at 1:00 p.m. Bradley and Ratcliff were permitted release upon posting bond.
Plezia is expected to make his initial appearance later this week.
Morris made his initial appearance earlier and has since
pleaded guilty. He was permitted to remain on bond.
The charges against Stern and his alleged co-conspirators
stem from a long-running criminal scheme to evade taxes. Stern also allegedly
obtained his personal injury cases through barratry - the illegal practice of
soliciting law firm clients by paying kickbacks to middlemen known as “case