Dickie Scruggs Sentenced to Five Years

Mississippi lawyer Dickie Scruggs, brother-in-law of Trent Lott, was sentenced to five years in federal prison today for conspiring to bribe a judge:

Scruggs, a former Navy pilot, is tall, slender and appeared composed as he entered the courthouse. But he caved when Biggers brought up his family. His wife, Diane, has been gravely ill.

At the mention of her and his daughter, Claire, Scruggs began to shake as he stood before the judge. His attorney, John Keker of San Francisco, put an arm around Scruggs, whose knees buckled before another attorney slid a chair forward so he could sit down.

Scruggs was contrite. [More...]

Before that, he had offered a statement to the judge: "I could not be more ashamed to be where I am today. I realized that I was getting mixed up in it and I will go to my grave not understanding why.

"I have disappointed everyone in my life. My wife, family and friends..."I deeply regret my conduct. It is a scar and a stain on my soul."

Scruggs did not cooperate with prosecutors. The judge today seemed to imply he ought to.

[Judge] 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."

Scruggs' son Zach Scruggs will be sentenced July 2. He pleased guilty to misprison (failure to report a felony) -- maximum sentence four years.

The sentencing transcript is here. The plea agreement is here and the factual basis for the plea here (pdf).

Why did Scruggs plead guilty? Probably, as I wrote here, he didn't have much choice. Despite having one of the best white collar defense lawyers in the country, John Keker, things weren't going his way:

The court docket shows the judge had already denied his motions to suppress the wiretap and dismiss the case on grounds of outrageous government conduct. The judge also agreed that "other acts" evidence from another case could come in.

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  • Display: Sort:
    It warms my heart... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 05:51:17 PM EST
    ...to see real criminals getting a taste of justice.  Maybe if this type of thing happens often enough, people who game the system will realize there are consequences to their actions.  

    And it's not like there is a lack of targets.

    Hmm.. (5.00 / 0) (#3)
    by JustJennifer on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 05:54:25 PM EST
    I am kind of opposed to white collar criminals being given long prison sentences.  Our prison systems are overcrowded as it is.  Is this guy a danger to society?  I hardly think so.  He is just an idiot, but there are plenty of those walking around already.  I say save the space and our tax dollars for people who are a threat to public safety.  Give the guy 10,000 hours of community service and a very stiff fine.

    I see... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 06:15:32 PM EST
    ...what you're getting at, but in my mind these people are a threat to public safety.  They play a large part in perpetuating the cycle of poverty and crime. They think the law only applies to the poor people and that they are above any law.  No better than gangsters--only they don't need the gun.

    We've got plenty of people locked up for being threats to public safety, who aren't.  I say let them out to make room for people like Scruggs.

    Besides, how much of that 5 years will he really serve?


    Yeah. (5.00 / 0) (#11)
    by Fabian on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 08:20:13 PM EST
    We had a local white collar con artist.  He specialized in starting up businesses with partners and then looting the businesses and leaving the partners holding the bag.  He was eventually convicted and served time.  At that point in time, he was the largest slum lord in the area.

    He served his time(some of it anyway), got out and went right back to work using his brother and wife as strawmen for his racket.  The authorities managed to put an end to that.

    Sometimes a criminal is a criminal is a criminal.


    i disagree. (none / 0) (#15)
    by cpinva on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 06:41:12 AM EST
    i think bribery of public officials, especially judges, is a clear and present danger to society, as much, or more so, than a murderer.

    the destruction of the public trust, by these acts, goes far beyond the individuals involved, rippeling through the entire system. ultimately, we can't know what might have resulted, had this group been successful in it's aim, subverting the justice system.

    how many lives might have been ruined by a tainted judiciary?


    Well then... (none / 0) (#17)
    by JustJennifer on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 10:51:58 AM EST
    how about public officials don't take bribes and then there is nothing to worry about ;)  

    Very contrite... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by dianem on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 06:23:09 PM EST
    ...but he's not going to do the right thing and help the government find the others who were involved. I'm sorry that he's going to prison, but he tried to subvert our system of justice and now he is protecting others who were involved in the crime.

    It looks like he may protecting his son (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by MKS on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 07:05:19 PM EST
    among others....

    Some Good Background (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by The Maven on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 06:26:51 PM EST
    on Scruggs and the particulars of this case can be found in Peter Boyer's atricle which appeared in The New Yorker a couple of months ago.

    Those who seek to condemn him largely on the basis of his connection to Lott would be well-advised to read this.

    Indeed (none / 0) (#13)
    by Robert Prather on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 08:33:03 PM EST
    If people are looking for questionable associations by Scruggs, they would be better served by looking at his relationship with the old Mississippi AG, Michael Moore.

    Thanks for posting that article (none / 0) (#18)
    by JustJennifer on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 11:07:37 AM EST
    Just read it.  I still don't think he deserves to go to prison.

    If John Keker can't get him off (5.00 / 0) (#8)
    by riddlerandy on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 06:39:42 PM EST
    he must be guilty

    Keker is the go-to lawyer (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by MKS on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 07:03:57 PM EST
    When big firms get into trouble, they hire Keker's boutique in San Francisco to help bail them out....

    Read a long time ago he worked his way through Harvard Law School by playing poker.

    Good (none / 0) (#1)
    by Saul on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 05:46:08 PM EST
    No one is above the law.

    Maybe GWB will commute his sentence and (none / 0) (#5)
    by thereyougo on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 06:20:13 PM EST
    pardon him. You never know.

    let me answer my own speculation (none / 0) (#14)
    by thereyougo on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 05:05:48 AM EST
    not a chance! After reading that piece in the NYer. Scruggs is a democrat doncha know!

    Thx for posting it.


    A Strategic Retreat (none / 0) (#12)
    by Robert Prather on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 08:29:35 PM EST
    From what I understand, he lost two mock trials he staged and this convinced him that he would lose the case.  He apparently decided a trial was a waste of time.

    Wiretapping the wiretappers :-) (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 10:37:46 AM EST