April 17, 2013 10:05:40 AM
JACKSON -- After losing a key appeal, disbarred Mississippi attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs asked to return to federal prison to resume serving out a seven-year prison sentence for trying to illegally influence a judge.
Scruggs, 66, was freed on $2 million bond in December while he appealed a conviction for improperly influencing then-Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter. The judge was presiding over a lawsuit between Scruggs and another lawyer who were fighting over money.
Prosecutors say Scruggs told DeLaughter he would recommend him to Scruggs' brother-in-law, then-Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, for an appointment to the federal bench. Lott, who has since retired and was not charged with wrongdoing, said he made a courtesy call to DeLaughter, but recommended someone else.
Scruggs, an architect of the multibillion dollar tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s, has asked to report to a prison in Montgomery, Ala., by April 29.
Scruggs pleaded guilty in 2009 to honest services fraud, but when the U.S. Supreme Court limited the scope of honest services laws in June 2010, he appealed. Scruggs argued that he was innocent of a crime to which he pleaded guilty.
Scruggs said he offered DeLaughter nothing of value and only endorsed his candidacy for a judgeship.
A three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his appeal.
"Scruggs's recommendation to his senator brother-in-law was a thing of value, at least to DeLaughter. There is abundant testimony regarding the 'deal' or 'arrangement' that they reached shortly thereafter, and of DeLaughter's official actions in exchange for the bribe," the panel wrote.
Scruggs and DeLaughter entered a corrupt agreement and "DeLaughter kept his end of the bargain" by ruling in Scruggs' favor and reviewing Scruggs' motions before they were filed, the panel wrote.