The Clarion-Ledger, 3/16/9

It’s known as honest services mail fraud and one count could land you in a federal prison for up to 20 years.

Throw in the potential for a $250,000 fine and there’s no wonder why a battle over the federal statute is shaping up early in the high-profile judicial bribery case of Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter.

DeLaughter, who inspired the movie Ghosts of Mississippi in the 1990s by prosecuting a man who killed a civil rights leader, pleaded not guilty Feb. 12 to five charges in the alleged scheme: conspiracy, obstruction and three counts of mail fraud.

DeLaughter has said he did nothing wrong.

DeLaughter’s attorneys asked for a delay of his April 6 trial, in part, to craft a defense to the mail fraud charges, which are “becoming a nationally controversial topic and, thus, will necessarily become a significant legal issue in this case,” according to a motion filed last week.