NEW YORK -- As a federal judge prepares to sentence Michael Milken for securities fraud, some former business associates of the deposed junk bond king have reason to worry that they may be the next targets of federal prosecutors.

Spurred in part by popular outrage over the savings and loan scandal, government investigators are hoping that Milken's testimony after his sentencing will yield evidence to support a new round of major inquiries into white-collar crime, according to sources familiar with the government's thinking.

A hint of what kinds of inquiries the government may be pursuing could come today when prosecutors are scheduled to make public a lengthy presentencing memorandum that describes in detail scores of crimes of which Milken is suspected.

While the presentencing memorandum is to be edited before it is made public, to leave out the names of some persons suspected of conspiring with Milken, the document promises to cast light on the government's intentions in pursuing other crimes linked to Milken. The government's new inquiries are expected to focus on persons who were on the other side of Milken's illicit transactions.

In questioning Milken after his sentencing, scheduled for Monday, prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission will seek to glean information that will put them on the trail of those with whom he worked in orchestrating his swindles. These are likely to include high-powered quarry in the business world, influential players in the thrift industry and a swarm of financiers who tapped into Milken's web of junk bond deals, according to attorneys and other sources familiar with the case.

"The complexity and number of deals that he {Milken} was in will set the government off at a very fast pace on further investigations," said Alan R. Bromberg, a law professor and prominent expert on securities fraud at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "I think we're going to see a lot more of this {investigative activity} as it ties into the savings and loans, many of which were issuers of his {Milken's} securities."

But for as many people like Bromberg who believe Milken could be a potential gold mine for prosecutors, there are as many other legal experts who have major doubts about whether Milken's assistance will amount to much.

First, of course, there is no guarantee that Milken has first-hand knowledge of any crimes beyond the six that he admitted in his landmark plea bargain in April. He pledged in that agreement to answer prosecutors' questions "fully and truthfully" after his sentencing, and so far no evidence has been made public to support the government's suspicions that Milken knew of any crimes in addition to those to which he pleaded guilty.

Legal experts also note that the five-year federal statute of limitations, which applies to many of the kinds of securities crimes that the government is believed to be investigating, has expired or is close to expiring for activities of which Milken presumably has first-hand knowledge.

"This may be a lot of sound and fury, which ends up signifying nothing because of the statute" of limitations, said a veteran securities fraud defense attorney, who asked to remain anonymous.

In addition, unless U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood structures Milken's sentence so that years could be trimmed off any prison term in return for future cooperation, Milken has a strong reason to keep to a minimum what he says: money. If he informs the government of wrongdoing beyond the six felony counts to which he has pleaded guilty, he runs a major risk that he would assist some victims of his swindles in suing him in civil court.

Milken faces a possible maximum sentence of 28 years, but various legal experts generally believe that he will receive somewhere between three and 10 years. Under his plea bargain, reached after months of negotiations with prosecutors, he agreed to pay a fine of $200 million plus $400 million in restitution to victims.

In return, the government agreed to drop 92 other charges against him, and to refrain from bringing additional charges as planned in a second indictment. But the prosecution is pressing now for the right to have Judge Wood consider additional accusations -- beyond the six to which Milken pleaded guilty -- in deciding a proper sentence.

The defense is countering that he should only be sentenced on the basis of the crimes that he admitted, and is planning to make public its own presentencing memorandum as well to challenge the prosecution's case.

Associates say Milken is convinced that the government's intense effort in prosecuting the case was wildly out of proportion to the crimes involved, and until now has strongly resisted cooperating with the prosecution.

There is also the question of just how much leverage the government could bring to bear against Milken in order to encourage his cooperation. In an unusual twist, the plea agreement provided for investigators to question Milken only after he is sentenced. That means that Milken will not be in a position to benefit in an important possible way -- a lighter, initial sentence -- from any cooperation that he provides.

On the other hand, the government does have two potential levers for pressing Milken. The plea bargain says that the government may prosecute him for perjury or obstruction of justice if his future testimony is "false, incomplete or misleading." That could add five years to his sentence.

In addition, Milken may be under pressure to cooperate if Wood gives him a relatively lengthy prison sentence -- such as 10 years or more -- and makes clear that he can get out early only if he cooperates with investigators.