DJ – More jail time for Scruggs

“I acknowledge and own up fully to my role,” he told Senior Judge Glen H. Davidson in a packed federal courtroom. “I will do everything I can to make it as right as I can.”

Scruggs, 62, of Oxford had just admitted to his second scheme to bribe a circuit judge – this time in Hinds County.

While not all of the details were made public, there was little doubt Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Norman was referring to suspended Judge Bobby DeLaughter when he said Scruggs “aided and abetted” a scheme to deprive the people of Mississippi the honest service of a public official.

Scruggs also admitted to mail fraud, which came from the “notice of appearance” mailed to the Hinds court by then-attorneys Joey Langston of Booneville and Timothy Balducci of New Albany as they contrived with Scruggs to get DeLaughter’s help in a legal-fees lawsuit, Wilson v. Scruggs, which had languished in the legal system nearly 10 years.

In that case, W. Roberts Wilson Jr. sued Scruggs, demanding millions of dollars he claimed he was owed as part of a legal coalition pressing lawsuits against national asbestos manufacturers. DeLaughter ultimately sided with Scruggs in the case.

21-2 more years in prison
Davidson on Tuesday sentenced Scruggs to 84 months in prison to run at the same time as the 60-month sentence he’s serving in an Ashland, Ky., facility for his guilty plea in a 2007 scheme to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City for his help in another legal-fees lawsuit, Jones v. Scruggs.

Since a pre-sentence report on Scruggs was only a few months old in the previous plea, he waived another report, which allowed Davidson to sentence him Tuesday.

Scruggs will serve about 21-2 more years in prison, instead of the 20 years he could have received, according to sentence guidelines. And the government agreed not to pursue other financial penalties against him.

With that recommendation by Norman, it was clear that Scruggs, who gained national prominence and huge earnings by taking on big industries such as tobacco and asbestos, was cooperating with federal investigators. His demeanor was the opposite of the defiance he showed at his June 27 sentencing in Oxford.

Norman and later U.S. Attorney James Greenlee said as much.

“His cooperation has opened several doors we need to investigate,” Norman said.

NE MS Daily Journal
2/11/9