By The Associated Press Pioneering class-action attorney William S. Lerach has agreed to plead guilty to a federal conspiracy charge involving a kickback scheme, prosecutors said Tuesday. The deal came after a seven-year federal investigation into allegations that Lerach’s former law firm paid people to sign on as plaintiffs in more than 150 lawsuits against major corporations. Prosecutors said the firm netted more than $200 million in fees during a 20-year period. Prosecutors accuse the firm of secretly paying more than $11 million in kickbacks to get people to take part in shareholder lawsuits, allowing its lawyers to be among the first to file litigation on behalf of shareholders and secure the lucrative position as lead plaintiffs’ counsel. “These client-buying guilty pleas in the securities litigation area pull back the curtain and give the public a good view of a system that’s become of, by, and for the lawyers,” said John Sullivan, president of the Civil Justice Association of California, a group that advocates legal reforms.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Lerach agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to obstruct justice and making false statements under oath, according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. He will forfeit $7.75 million to the government, pay a $250,000 fine and accept a sentence ranging from one year to two years in federal prison, the prosecutors’ statement said. An arraignment will be held at a later date. “I have always fought for my clients aggressively and vigorously in order to hold powerful corporations responsible when their actions harmed people; however, I regrettably crossed a line and pushed too far,” Lerach said in a statement. “For my actions, I apologize and accept full responsibility for my conduct.” The case against Lerach is part of an ongoing federal probe that led to last year’s indictment against New York law firm Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman and two of its partners.