Will Dickie Scruggs play the patsy again?
In the Paul Minor trial, Dickie Scruggs (originally listed in the indictment as “Intermediary #2”), financed Judge Wes Teel at Minor’s request. According to Scruggs’ attorney, Robert Sigfried of New York, in a 7/30/3 Clarion Ledger article, “Mr. Scruggs was asked by Mr. Minor to loan Mr. Teel the amount specifically for Mr. Teel’s personal use because, according to Mr. Minor, Mr. Teel could not get such a loan from the bank, given his bank obligations at the time.” What later came out was that Minor was the mastermind and Scruggs played the role of the patsy, who was just doing a favor for an old friend, but not having the context of the ultimate use of the money.
Fast forward to 2007. With it becoming more and more obvious that the Feds pinched Balducci early in the process and had him cooperating, will Dickie scruggs again play the “hapless, manipulated rich guy” role where he is unwittingly duped into financing a nefarious endeavor like he was in the Minor trial? This case looks very clearly like it will come down to Balducci’s testimony that Scruggs knew exactly where that $50,000 was going and what it was purchasing. Seemingly, Scruggs only defense at this point is to say he was duped by Balducci, who would do anything to save his own skin. Complicating matters is that Scruggs’ son, Zach, is involved. It is going to be extremely difficult for Dickie to insulate himself from folks that were that close to him, if indeed the Government has the goods on Zach Scruggs and Sidney Backstrom.
There’s more of a history here . . .
In the Paul Minor trial, there was some very interesting information that came out regarding Scruggs’ record on financing judicial campaigns. From our friends at Overlawyered . . .
Scruggs’ personal secretary, prosecution witness Charlene Bosarge, supplied a bag of cash to Jennifer Diaz [then-wife of Justice Diaz] for the campaign, Jennifer Diaz told FBI agents.
During the April 13-14, 2005, FBI interviews, Jennifer Diaz said Scruggs and Bosarge promised more cash if they could find names to go with it for state campaign disclosure forms. Beginning in 1999, state law limited Supreme Court contributions to $5,000 per person.
According to Overlawyered, Scruggs also provided Jennifer Diaz with an $80,000 campaign loan that was ultimately forgiven.
The bottom line is that a pattern seems to have clearly emerged. Scruggs may can pull of the “stupid rich guy” routine once in the Paul Minor trial, but my sense is that it won’t play nearly as well as it did last time.