Bribery Indictments Expand | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Bribery Indictments Expand

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The federal indictment of attorney Dickie Scruggs continues to snatch up lawyers like an expanding avalanche barreling down a ski slope. Booneville attorney Joey Langston pled guilty to a corruption charge last week, admitting that he tried to influence a Hinds County Circuit Court Judge.

According to the Jan. 7 indictment against Langston, the attorney conspired with Scruggs and former State Auditor Steven Patterson and others, "both known and unknown," to try to influence Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Bobby DeLaughter in 2006. The indictment claims Langston and others wanted to get a favorable ruling in the Wilson v. Scruggs asbestos-fees case that was before DeLaughter.

The indictment says "Langston and his co-conspirators," including Timothy Balducci and Steven Patterson—two people indicted last year with Scruggs for trying to buy influence over Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey—traveled to Jackson to peddle influence, through "a close personal friend" of DeLaughter. The indictment says Langston and the others promised DeLaughter $50,000 in cash and consideration for a U.S. District Judge appointment if he ruled favorably for Scruggs.

Scruggs' brother-in-law, former Sen. Trent Lott, was in a position at the time to submit DeLaughter's name for the district judge appointment. Lott retired last November, one day before FBI agents raided Scruggs' law office.

The Clarion-Ledger claims former Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters is the friend that Langston and others approached. The newspaper has not released the source of that information, though the newspaper claims it does not use unnamed sources.

DeLaughter ruled favorably for Scruggs in the Wilson v. Scruggs case, and the Langston indictment claims Langston, Patterson and DeLaughter's "close personal friend" split $3 million "representing the savings to Scruggs as a result of (DeLaughter's favorable) rulings."

DeLaughter denied any influence from Scruggs in that case to The Clarion-Ledger.

In chasing Langston, investigators likely followed the information provided by Patterson—who resigned from the auditor's office in 1996 after misrepresenting the price on his car tag. Patterson agreed to plead guilty to conspiring with Scruggs and others to bribe Lackey, and is cooperating with federal agents.

Patterson, Scruggs, Balducci and Scruggs' son, Zach Scruggs, were among the first indicted on Nov. 28, 2007, on charges of approaching Lackey with a bribe to influence a favorable outcome in a suit over $26.5 million in attorneys' fees from a mass settlement of Katrina lawsuits.

Previous Comments

ID
68246
Comment

...and to think of the money tax payers spend to prosecute the youngster who robbed the 7/11 store and took cigaretes valued at $200.00. These folks have taken millions and if you know a few folks to feed the wolves, you just might walk. The justice system stinks!

Author
justjess
Date
2008-01-17T11:00:24-06:00
ID
68247
Comment

These big time criminals gotta pay according to their deeds. This is why I never assume the middle class, rich and wealthy have redemptive principles or great morality. They're no better than the poor and often worse.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2008-01-21T16:23:17-06:00
ID
68248
Comment

this is the first story in print where I have seen Trent Lott resigned the day before the Sh** hit the fan.....like he didn't know what was comin down...... good job JFP......

Author
ATLExile
Date
2008-01-22T11:49:21-06:00
ID
68249
Comment

The story was on Slate less than a week after his resignation. I posted the link at that time. There is little doubt he will be formally implicated.

Author
Willezurmacht
Date
2008-01-22T11:52:01-06:00

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