Scruggs pleads guilty 2nd time

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Glen Davidson sentenced the 62-year-old former lawyer to seven years in prison for his role in a scheme to influence Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter in a legal-fees dispute.

When Scruggs was sentenced on the first corruption charge on June 27, he appeared badly shaken, at one point needing help sitting down, in response to getting a five-year sentence. This time a shackled Scruggs calmly accepted his fate.

“I apologize to the bar and the state of Mississippi (for involvement) in this sordid mess,” Scruggs told Davidson. “I’m going to do everything I can to make it as right as I can. … I hope and believe what I’ve done today is a major step in redeeming that pledge.”

DeLaughter has denied any wrongdoing. He could be charged in an indictment that remains sealed. U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee of Oxford hinted that indictment could be made public “soon” but would not comment further.

Scruggs already is serving time for his part in a 2007 scheme that led to the payment of a $40,000 bribe to a Lafayette County judge hearing another legal-fees dispute, this one involving Hurricane Katrina litigation.

On Tuesday, Scruggs pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting mail fraud.

Prosecutors asked that the new sentence run concurrently with Scruggs’ current sentence, and Davidson agreed. Scruggs also must pay a $100,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Norman said Scruggs has begun to cooperate with authorities in a way he hasn’t before and has agreed to take a lie detector test. If Scruggs’ information and testimony prove valuable, prosecutors have agreed to consider recommending his sentence be reduced.

In court Tuesday, Davidson told Scruggs this is the second time he has pleaded guilty to a crime in which he admitted violating his oath as an attorney to uphold the law.

The judge mentioned coming across a book which quoted a Roman proverb, “Money is like seawater. The more you drink, the thirstier you become.”

Jerry Mitchell
Clarion Ledger
2/11/9