Zach Scruggs’ lawyer, however, former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore, said Tuesday his client “is very remorseful and contrite about his involvement in this case and he is hoping and praying that the court will honor the government’s recommendation because of his minimal involvement.”
Zach and Dickie Scruggs and a law partner were indicted in November after an associate secretly recorded conversations about the bribery plan. Prosecutors said the goal was to get a favorable ruling in a dispute over $26.5 million in legal fees from a mass settlement of Hurricane Katrina insurance cases.
The bribery scandal shocked the legal community; many wondered why an attorney worth hundreds of millions of dollars would risk everything for a fraction of that amount.
“A lot of people ask why, and I think this is more about winning than it was about money. It was more about power than it was dollars and cents,” said Matt Steffey, a professor at Mississippi College’s law school.
Dickie Scruggs, 62, became one of the wealthiest civil lawsuit attorneys in the country and gained fame in the 1990s by using a corporate insider against tobacco companies in lawsuits that resulted in a $206 billion settlement.
That case was portrayed in the 1999 film “The Insider” that starred Al Pacino and Russell Crowe.
In sentencing Dickie Scruggs last Friday, Biggers said it was clear that Zach also participated in the scheme to influence Lafayette County Circuit Judge Henry Lackey to send the case to arbitration.
Zach Scruggs “looked at the order, proposed order, made comments on it before it was to be submitted to Judge Lackey; and he was there when this scheme first started,” Biggers said.