Scruggs disagrees about prison time

Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and the U.S. Probation Office have differences of opinion about how much prison time the Oxford attorney should get for conspiring to bribe a judge.

In legal papers filed Wednesday, Scruggs’ attorneys take 15 pages to outline his life and 17 more to explain why he should receive no more than 30 months in prison. Prosecutors recommended five years, when he pleaded guilty May 14.

Scruggs “respectfully requests a sentence at the low end” of the guidelines, or 30-37 months, his attorney John Keker writes. He cites the poor health of Scruggs’ wife, Diane, asking for a shorter sentence so that “he may return quickly to her side.”

The prosecution’s sentencing memorandum, also filed Wednesday, disagrees, saying that because the probation service determined the benefit from the bribe at $5.3 million, it upped the ante on punishment. Attorneys for Scruggs and co-defendant Sidney Backstrom insist the benefit was only $50,000 – the amount offered to Judge Henry Lackey for a favorable ruling in a legal fees dispute.

Backstrom’s plea agreement effectively capped his sentence at 30 months, and prosecutors say that shouldn’t be in dispute.

NEMS Daily Journal
6/26/8