Tapes: Judge’s order edited

On Tuesday, prosecutors made a Nov. 1 transcript public, detailing conversations that Balducci made while wearing a wire and cooperating with the FBI. In the transcript, Balducci told Backstrom and Zach Scruggs that he had dropped off an order from Lackey that was going to be filed in the $26 million case until opposing counsel Grady Tollison filed a number of motions.

Lackey has “prepared another order and … I got it,” Balducci said. “Everything’s still cool.”

Balducci told the pair that Lackey was moving the case to arbitration. Backstrom apparently read the proposed order and remarked, “The plaintiff never requested relief by this court or any relief by this court or any other court but chose to disregard the clear language and intent of the joint venture agreement. … That doesn’t make any sense. It’s not a bad thing for us, but doesn’t make any sense.”

Zach Scruggs complained that e-mails from the legal fees dispute case were becoming public.

Backstrom suggested that after Lackey entered the order, “We say we would like this to be sealed, because there’s a bunch of s— in here that is just inflammatory and not helpful to us.”

In what prosecutors claim is a reference to a bribe, Balducci told Zach Scruggs and Backstrom: “The other piece of the puzzle I hadn’t told you yet is … I’ve gotta go back for another delivery … of sweet potatoes down there.”

“Mm-hmm,” Backstrom replied.

“So get it right,” Balducci said. “Get it how you want it ’cause we’re paying for it to get it done right.”

After apparently reading the order aloud, Backstrom said, “That’s good enough to me. I wouldn’t change anything.”

Balducci then talked with Dickie Scruggs about the $26 million case, saying he dropped off an order for Lackey to sign. “It was gonna show up in the court file, and everything was gonna be hunky dory,” Balducci said.

Jerry Mitchell
Clarion Ledger
2/20/8