Scruggs Update: Balducci Did Flip

I’ve been following the Scruggs indictment over at Law Blog and folo while I’ve been busy moving. The short version update? The first concern of the judge who allegedly got bribed, Judge Lackey, was for the guy who was doing the dirty work of bribing: Tim Balducci. While a lot of people have a lot of respect for Lackey, it doesn’t sound like many people (besides Lackey himself) have much respect for Balducci.

This is all the more important since Balducci’s plea agreement makes it clear that Balducci has been assisting prosecutors for some time.

The government acknowledges the fact that the defendant has already substantially assisted the government within themeaning of Section 5K1.1 of the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines Manual. Provided the defendant continues his cooperation and substantial assistance, the government agrees to file with the Court a motion for downward departure.

Perhaps that’s why Dickie Scuggs’ brother-in-law, Trent Lott, thinks that Dickie was caught in a sting.

Lott also suggested that Scruggs may have been the target of an FBI "sting," but he added: "I don’t know the facts."


Lott said he has spoken to Scruggs, the husband of his wife’s younger sister, just once since the indictment. And Lott said Scruggs "is still my friend." But the senator didn’t offer any further defense of Scruggs, adding again, "I just don’t know."

Or maybe Lott got the notion that Scruggs got caught in a sting because of something Scruggs said in that one conversation?

  1. bmaz says:

    Naw. Big Trent has probably been reading your blog and saw my random musings on the day this came out that this might be the case!

  2. radiofreewill says:

    Lackey flipped Balducci.

    Balducci rolled on Scruggs.

    Scruggs rolled on Lott? Maybe.

    Why did Scruggs think he and Balducci could get away with bribing a Judge?

  3. Rayne says:

    OMFG, no. My husband would evict me. He thinks chihuahuas and little dogs of that ilk are snacks, not dogs.

    I could say yes to a MilleniaLab-sized canine, but we travel too much and the kids are simply too irresponsible and too active with school stuff. It’d be Mom’s dog. [sigh]

  4. Neil says:

    OT – I listened to John Bolton’s speech Monday. He makes an interesting argument which I plan to revisit. Of particular note to folks here, Bolton asserted that the strike in Syria was on a nuclear power plant being built in cooperation with North Korea. Unfortunetly, there was no Q&A (at least not on the tape.)

  5. marksb says:

    When I read this Scruggs stuff I swear I can hear the banjos twanging. Is anybody actually stupid enough to think they can get away with bribing a judge?

    And then Lott speculates that the idiot was “caught in a sting”? I mean, man comes up to you and tells you that you can bribe the judge and you don’t run the other way while punching numbers into your cell phone? Social Darwinism: Dude, you’ve been whistled out of the pool.

    • Taechan says:

      Does one need a passport to travel to Mississippi?

      Unfortunately, no or I’d’ve avoided heading there when I was 19.

      Can you get out if you get in?

      Fortunately, yes. But it certainly seemed that you couldn’t for the lonnnnnnnnngest time, even though I avoided stepping in the red clay.

      Anyone know when preview will actually do something? or what I need to change permission-wise to get it to do something?

  6. bmaz says:

    This prosecution still smells bad to me as to Scruggs. His kid too. Far as I can tell, the only thing that Zach Scruggs has done is be unfortunate enough to be in the Scruggs Law Office when Balducci came in blabbering some nonsense on one or more occasions; if there is anything beyond out there on Zach, we sure haven’t seen it, nor has it been alleged. And the indictment as to Zach is so thin and weak, that if they had more, you would sure think it would have been included. So far as I can tell, the only information against either Scruggs, Dickie or Zach, comes solely from Balducci. If they don’t have incriminating tapes from taps, wires, Bush’s “Teh Program”, or some source on the conversations that Balducci claims he had with Scruggs; this case is a complete pile of dung as to the two Scruggs. If they have tapes, it is a done deal (but since they proudly released the fact that they had a tape of Balducci with the judge, but there has been not even so much as a rumor of tapes of Scruggs, my guess is they have no tapes of Scruggs or we would know about it). Everything about this case reeks. What was Lackey doing having ex-parte conversations with Balducci anyway? If this really was a planned out scheme, why in the world did it take six months to play out? I saw someone in one of the links clucking about the fact that the $40,000 Scruggs paid to Balducci for jury instruction preparation and selection preparation and work is inconceivable and must be evidence of covering for the bribe. Eh, not necessarily. I and/or my partners in my former firm hired jury consultants alone several different times and paid that much (up front before the work too), and that doesn’t even include having an outside lawyer coordinate everything and write the proposed instructions. In complex cases, this is a huge undertaking. I smell a giant rat here and, like a NASCAR racecar, it has State Farm, Allstate, Hartford, Liberty Mutual, Chamber of Commerce, Bush Republican tort reformers and other assorted business stickers all over it’s body.

  7. Rayne says:

    So did Lott exit to be clear of the scene of the crime, or did he get a gift that he needed to park someplace else without the encumbrance of employment — a gift one might deposit offshore? This part just doesn’t fit yet.

    • bmaz says:

      Rayne, I could be totally bonkers, but I don’t think this was a factor, or if it was not much of one, in Lott’s resignation. So far, the only possible linkage I see is that the Bush DOJ suddenly felt free to pounce on Scruggs once they knew Lott was retiring and wasn’t going to be around to push back; not that Lott retired because of this. It will probably turn out that I am way off base here; but, from what I have seen so far, those are my thoughts….

  8. bmaz says:

    Evil Parallel Universe November 30th, 2007 at 2:30 pm 3
    I’m not sure why you think it mystifying that Zach Scruggs was indicted. From the gov’t’s point of view, he is clearly an alleged co-conspirator, and there is nothing mystifying about his being indicted – in fact, it’s par for the course for the gov’t to indict anyone and everyone who it can tie in, even in what you might consider unsubstantial ways to the alleged conspiracy. Why? They might actually think he is part of the conspiracy and think they can convict, or they want leverage to get him to testify against family/friends – or perhaps both – either way, it â€works†for the prosecution.

    The guy who delivers papers allegedly not knowing what he was delivering, or one conversation he overhead or was part of, makes him a part of the alleged conspiracy – they’re the predicate acts in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy. Now, if he were simply an employee of the firm (a secretary say), then the gov’t most likely would look upon the predicate acts differently. But he wasn’t, so they don’t.

    In white collar crime simply being there at the right â€level†is more often than not enough to not only get you indicted as part of a conspiracy, but get you convicted.

    Rather than being mytifying, his indictment is par for the course for a conspiracy prosecution.

    I will add, that if you look at the indictment and trial related to this…..from.html, one of those convicted was a “Zach Scruggs” – delivered documents relating to the alleged $100+ million bank and tax conspiracies and had one conversation. Two overt acts allegedly in furtherance of – and the guy was convicted. And the gov’t does that all the time, and juries buy into

    That may well be what they think, but what they “think” is not the standard. The standard in the US Attorney’s office (by their own manual) for charging an individual is sufficient evidence [for a reasonable prosecutor] to believe they can prove up the case beyond a reasonable doubt and convict. The indictment in this case is pretty lackluster to be the work product of a US Atty’s Office. That said, I see at least a minimal basis within the four corners for all of the defendants except Zach Scruggs. I have no doubt that they have included Scruggs’ son Zach to “leverage to get him to testify against family/friends”; actually, in this case, to cause father Dickie Scruggs to cop a plea, but same idea I think. If they don’t have a lot better than I have seen so far, I have real problems with this. You are right that this type of pleading and conduct is “par for the course” for prosecutors; that does not make it right, and I rarely see such flimsy instances as I see so far with regard to Zach Scruggs. In state and county courts yes; Federal District Court, no, extremely rarely. The British case seems inapposite; but nevertheless, I understand exactly what you were conveying. Still not buying it yet, and I understand the concepts of predicate and overt acts quite well.

    Now, irrespective of the above, I know no more than I have been able to read on the toobz, but I have prowled those depths as well as I could looking around. The government may possess all kinds of evidence not yet public, in fact it is a given that they do. The question will be the quality and sufficiency of it. My musings are predicated only on what I can see, as of now, as filtered through my experience. You do acquire a certain sense of things from prowling the halls of the criminal justice system for an extended time. Something about this one just doesn’t sit right to me as to Scruggs and his kid. Caveat: my experience is entirely in defense, so I look at things through that perspective. Certainly not saying either are innocent necessarily, I am just not very swayed by the case against them yet. I respect your learned opinion, but I call em as I see em, and without more (which is quite likely forthcoming) that is how I see it as of now. Time will tell….

  9. JohnLopresti says:

    An organization of people who live and work in a place called Turkey Creek neighborhood on the Gulf Coast part of MS has a local color article at National Housing Institute and Shelterforce combined website there. The visitor might want to glimpse the image on the NHI homepage, as well.