Scruggs guilty plea expected

Scruggs is serving five years in prison for his part in a 2007 scheme that led to the payment of a $40,000 bribe to a Lafayette County judge hearing a legal fees dispute regarding Hurricane Katrina litigation. After that plea, a default judgment was entered against Scruggs.

Scruggs is expected to plead guilty at 1 p.m. today before U.S. District Judge Glen Davidson in Aberdeen. The charges involve a previous fees dispute, this one heard by Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter, who has been suspended since March 2008 while the state Commission on Judicial Performance investigates allegations against him.

DeLaughter also could be charged in the case. He has maintained his innocence from the start, saying he followed the law in ruling mostly in Scruggs’ favor.

Scruggs’ one-time lawyer, Joey Langston of Booneville, already has pleaded guilty in the Hinds County case and has been sentenced to three years in prison.

If DeLaughter is charged, he could face possible testimony from Scruggs, Langston and others, including his former boss, one-time District Attorney Ed Peters, who is cooperating with authorities.

In 1994, two former law partners, Alwyn Luckey and Bob Wilson, sued Scruggs, saying he never paid them their share from asbestos and tobacco litigation. The case bounced from court to court until 2005 when U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerry Davis arbitrated the case involving Luckey, concluding that Scruggs owed Luckey $17 million.

Clarion Ledger
2/10/9