Reading the transcript, first posted online Friday by the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Jackson attorney Vicki Slater was not surprised to find Scruggs appeared reluctant to confess. He was forced to admit his guilt so he would face only a maximum of five years in prison, as opposed to the 75 years possible if convicted on all six charges against him.
Prosecutors accepted his plea to the charge that carried the least amount of time: conspiracy to defraud the United States, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Over the years, the 61-year-old Scruggs has built an image as one of the nation’s most accomplished attorneys in David vs. Goliath battles with the asbestos, tobacco and insurance industries. When his former brother in arms, Biloxi attorney Paul Minor, was indicted on judicial bribery charges, Scruggs brought in a New York public relations firm to distance himself from the sordid details. Those details included unreported campaign contributions from him to a state Supreme Court candidate and loan repayments for a judge through a third party.