Dickie Scruggs received the maximum 5 years in prison in $250,000 in fines for a crime Judge Neal D. Biggers Jr. called “reprehensible.”
Before sentencing, Scruggs told the judge, “I could not be more ashamed to be where I am today. I realized I was getting mixed up in it and I will go to my grave wondering why. I have disappointed everyone in my life – my wife, family and friends here to support me today. I deeply regret my conduct. It is a scar and a stain on my soul.”
Biggers entered the courtroom at 10 a.m. sharp and it was soon obvious from what he said about the findings in the pre-sentencing report, that the judge would hand down a stiff sentence.
He said, “There is no question in the court’s mind that Mr. Scruggs, Mr. Richard Scruggs, was a leader and a planner (in the conspiracy). He has said he came into the scheme late. Regardless, he was the leader, he was the money man.”
In fact, Biggers said Scruggs had entered into the scheme so easily that it made him wonder whether Scruggs had done such a thing before and indeed evidence indicates that he may have.
Biggers found that at least five people, including Scruggs’ son Zach, participated in the conspiracy. He said Scruggs will have a chance to study a copy of the pre-sentencing report while he is in prison. He said one of the conspiracy participants, Timothy Balducci, “said you know where a lot of bodies are buried. It might do you some good to uncover some of those bodies.”
Biggers also questioned why Scruggs would be paying legal settlement fees to non-lawyers. He did not mention any names, but it was clear that he was referring to the elusive Delta businessman P.L. Blake, who expected, over the course of a settlement Scruggs reached with tobacco companies, to receive $50 million in fees.
Blake has said he monitored news reports and kept his ear to the ground to interpret public sentiment for Scruggs during the politically charged tobacco negotiations in the late 1990s.