Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dickie Scruggs Indicted On Federal Bribery Charges

Corruption in the Courts? Nooo say it ain't so!

Hmmm payoffs? Now I never thought of that!

Someone should ask Hearing officer Bonnie Cohen Gallet and Judge Terrance McElrath if they were paid for their roles in the apparent "legal" kidnapping/aiding and abetting and obstruction of justice in the "custody case" of my children!

Alternatively, could it be it's all been a string of bad coincedences?

[Things that make ya go hmm]

This just in: High-profile plaintiffs lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs was indicted today in federal court on charges of trying to bribe a state-court judge. The judge was hearing a dispute over legal fees between Scruggs and another lawyer stemming from their role in Hurricane Katrina litigation.

Henry Lackey, a Mississippi state-court judge in Calhoun City, Miss., reported the $40,000 bribery overture to federal authorities and agreed to assist in the investigation in an undercover capacity, according to the indictment. Click here for a copy of it.

Four others were also indicted. They include Scruggs’s son Zachary Scruggs and Sidney Backstrom, both lawyers at the Scruggs Law Firm, and Timothy Balducci, a lawyer in New Albany, Miss. Also indicted was Steven Patterson, an employee at Mr. Balducci’s firm. The men were indicted by a federal grand jury in Oxford, Miss.

The lawsuit before Judge Lackey centered on a fight over the division of $26.5 million in legal fees. Jones, Funderburg, Sessums, Peterson & Lee PLLC, a law firm in Jackson, Miss., sued Mr. Scruggs for allegedly withholding money it claims it was owed for its work on Hurricane Katrina insurance-related litigation. The Jones law firm was part of the the Scruggs Katrina Group, a group of plaintiffs lawyers organized by Mr. Scruggs that represents policyholders in litigation related to the hurricane.

The indictment alleges that Mr. Balducci paid Judge Lackey $40,000 to issue a ruling favorable to Mr. Scruggs and his law firm. Mr. Scruggs allegedly reimbursed Mr. Balducci the $40,000 to use for the bribe, and created false documentation to mask the payment as compensation for work on another case.

According to the indictment, Mr. Balducci had a conversation with the judge in which he said “We, uh, like I say, it ain’t but three people in the world that know anything about this … and two of them are sitting here and the other one … the other one, uh, being Scruggs … he and I, um, how shall I say, for over the last five or six years there, there are bodies buried that, that you know, that he and I know where … where are, and, and, my, my trust in his, mine in him and his in mine, in me, I am sure are the same.”

Once Judge Lackey received the $40,000 payment he issued a favorable order, according to the indictment.

Mr. Scruggs, Zachary Scruggs and Mr. Backstrom did not immediately return calls for comment. Messrs. Balducci and Patterson weren’t reached for comment.

Law Blog - : Dickie Scruggs Indicted On Federal Bribery Charges

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