Feds still digging

Norman said in court Friday that Balducci has been digging ditches on the highway since pleading guilty and, otherwise, couldn’t support his family. Balducci represented himself.

“I have to consider that you were the bagman,” Biggers said minutes before sentencing. “You’re the one who talked to the judge to try and get him to go along with you.

“(But) it’s obvious, without your cooperation, this case would have ended with just you as the only defendant.”

Biggers was harsher on Patterson, though he didn’t explain why. The judge said he was confused why Patterson was receiving $80,000 a month from the 1990s tobacco settlement that brought Scruggs fame and fortune.

“The point is you’re not a lawyer, and I think it’s interesting you receive this settlement,” Biggers said. “You attempted to corrupt a state court judge. I don’t think you know how serious that is.”

In court Patterson said he now was receiving $20,000 a month. No explanation was given.

During a statement to Biggers, Patterson said he was sorry.

“If God Almighty would give me the choice to live the remainder of my life in a carefree paradise or go back and undo the mistakes and stupidity I did, … I would choose the latter,” Patterson said. “The contempt that I once had for this case, I no longer have. I have had to endure whispers in the community, … endure exaggerated and often wrong press coverage. I stand here today embarrassed, humiliated, and fearful.”

Federal prosecutors called Patterson a “minor participant” because they believe the bribe would still have occurred if Patterson had been “out of the country.”

Biggers said he was sentencing Patterson only for the conspiracy to bribe Lackey, and not in other cases in which Patterson has been implicated.

Patterson’s attorney, Hiram Eastland, said his client will not be charged in other cases.

“We will be continuing to need the cooperation of both these gentlemen, Mr. Patterson and Mr. Balducci … at trial and for a grand jury investigation,” Norman said after the sentencing.

Patterson’s testimony is needed during a grand jury session the week of March 20, Norman said.

Paul Quinn
Clarion Ledger
2/14/9