Blake still enigma in bribery probe

However, in federal documents related to the judicial bribery investigation, a confidential source described Blake as “the ‘bagman’ for DS (Dickie Scruggs) during the national tobacco case.”

Whatever Blake’s job, court documents show that he is slated to earn, by 2023, $50 million for his work for Scruggs.

Roughly six years ago, Blake and his wife left Greenwood and moved to Birmingham.

According to Leflore County Circuit Clerk Trey Evans, Blake moved so that his wife, who has suffered health problems, could be closer to medical facilities.

“That’s why they moved, as far as I know,” Evans said. “It wasn’t to get away from any publicity or anything like that, but simply because his wife was sick and she could be closer to her doctor over there.”

All that remains of Blake in Leflore County today are memories of locals who recall a well-built, well-connected gentleman who moved in powerful political circles.

“He was always mixed up in politics. He always knew the big players,” Leflore County Sheriff Ricky Banks said. “He was in with Big Jim Eastland for a while and afterwards Trent Lott, I think. But I just knew him as a fellow who worked all the time. Just like the rest of us, he was trying to make a living.”

Eastland was one of the most powerful senators in Washington until his retirement in 1977. Lott, the former Senate majority leader, announced in November 2007 his sudden retirement two days before Scruggs, his brother-in-law, was indicted.

In 2006, Blake sold his 6,500-square-foot home on Bell Avenue to Ceandris Brown, a professional football player with the Houston Texans.

The land Blake once owned near Schlater n known locally as P.D. Plantation and where Blake had a lake built n is part of Tackett Fish Farms today.

Bert Fleming, who owns Greenwood Nursery, would occasionally do business with Blake.

“As far as my dealings with him, he was always a straight-up guy with me,” Fleming said.

Evans said he remembers Blake as a respected member of the community for his political clout and his willingness to help.

“He was well respected by people,” he said. “Not just locally, not just here in Leflore County, but from Jackson all the way up to Washington, D.C. When things needed to get done, he was always the guy who knew the people behind the scenes who could get things happening. He did a lot of good things, I know, here in Leflore County. And he never got recognition for it, nor did he want any recognition.”

Evans doubts Blake will be pulled into the judicial bribery scandal further.

“I’d be very surprised if he was involved in any of this Scruggs and corruption deal,” he said. “As far as I know, he hasn’t had his fingers in anything political in this state in quite a while.”

Leflore County Tax Collector Sara Kenwright said she knew little of Blake while he was in Greenwood, other than he owned a lot of land.

“He paid a lot of taxes around here at one time,” she said. “I never heard a bad word about him and, other than things I read in the newspaper, still haven’t.”

Greenwood Commonwealth
2/27/9

hattip – Jan Goodrich