Scruggs Nation, Day 23: the wire part II

Now, there would be no point at all that I can see to taping a meeting of Judge Lackey and Balducci on November 1 if Balducci had already begun cooperating. As I mulled over the sequence of events listed in the indictment, that meeting on November 1 stuck out like a sore thumb, and I posted about this earlier this week. Why would Balducci bother to deliver the $10,000 if both he and Lackey were wise to the fakeness of the transaction? You will note that, among all the sums mentioned in the indictment, only a final extra $10,000 that Balducci apparently asked for after delivery of the full $40,000 is not mentioned as being delivered to Lackey, and the obvious implication of that is that Balducci was put up to claiming the judge was demanding more money above the original $40,000, so more evidence could be gathered. That last part seems clear, but what of the drop-off of the other $10,000 earlier in the day November 1?

One commenter to my post said the meeting was probably real — the FBI confronted Balducci after it was over and showed him the surveillance tapes, and then sent him to Oxford with a body wire to go talk to Backstrom and the Scruggses. This was a very, very good analysis, but not having any experience “flipping” or “being flipped,” I was skeptical: I imagine that if I was confronted like this, I might be too shaken to pull off a good acting job with my co-conspirators, might start muttering to myself about “the damn FBI,” or say something stupid like “I can’t believe we thought we could pull this off, we should have known it would never work.” Maybe I would start some Nixon-like sweating, or break out in involuntary twitching. Maybe if someone asked me what took me so long to get there I might blurt out defensively “Well, traffic was a bitch and getting busted is a real time-killer too! Just wait and see.” I also wondered whether the FBI would care to send Balducci in without more prep time — maybe an encounter session with a few felons from other cases who had flipped, some film room time to watch some “how to” videos, maybe bring in a stress coach, physical therapist or motivational speaker to keep him loose.

But from the description in the government’s new filing, it does indeed appear that is just what they did. This theory is supported by another section of the new filing that talks of evidence of consensual recordings involving Balducci, Backstrom, Dickie Scruggs and Zach Scruggs. Because the indictment mentions Balducci meeting with all three on November 1 after he returned from Lackey’s office, this is a logical time for the consensual recordings to have been made.

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