Archive for the ‘Scrushy Watch’ Category

Today in “Duh!”

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Lawyers representing HealthSouth shareholders have filed court documents stating that Richard Scrushy “has told people he has $600 million in offshore bank accounts, and has transferred millions of dollars worth of property to evade collection attempts” of a $2.8 billion civil judgment against him.  Color me stunned.


Siegelman: The Saga Continues

Monday, July 16th, 2007

US Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) reiterated his concerns today about the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, saying he’s fairly confident the House Judiciary Committee will include the case in its upcoming review of federal prosecutions around the country that may have been tainted by political influence.  I was surprised to read that US Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) also has questions:

U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, said, that while he does not support the former governor, everyone has a right to fair prosecution under federal law. He said the case was unusual in at least one way that could bear investigation: Siegelman was taken immediately into custody after sentencing, while other non-violent offenders that are not at risk to run are “allowed to put their affairs in order.”

“If Congress does investigate, it shouldn’t be about this case, but about whether prisoners in general are subject to humane treatment,” he said. “The Eighth Amendment means that you cannot restrain someone unnecessarily, to degrade or embarrass them. It means dignity for all men, including those who have been sentenced.”

I have a theory about Siegelman’s immediate incarceration, and I can’t be the only one to consider this.  Siegelman was tied so closely to Richard Scrushy during the trial that the judge doesn’t really see them as separate entities.  Unlike Siegelman, Scrushy really is a flight risk.  He has massive resources at his disposal, and he pushed the limits of his bail over and over again while he was awaiting sentence.  In this instance, I think Siegelman is being punished because the judge suspects Scrushy might run.

And in another interesting development, a bipartisan group of former state attorneys general has asked Congress to investigate the Siegelman prosecution.

“The only way to convince the public that the governor is not the victim of a politically motivated double-standard is for Congress to investigate all aspects of the case thoroughly,” the former attorneys general wrote to the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees.

The group includes Democrats and Republicans and is led by Jeff Modisett, an Indiana Democrat, Bob Abrams, a New York Democrat, Bob Stefan, a Kansas Republican, and Grant Woods, an Arizona Republican.

Davis Asks Congress To Investigate Siegelman Prosecution

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) has formally asked the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman.  Davis, a member of the committee, sent a letter to Chairman John Conyers yesterday detailing the reasons for his request.

Davis’ request is the first formal move by a member of Congress to publicly take up Siegelman’s cause on Capitol Hill. Davis, a former federal prosecutor, argues Congress has already unearthed a pattern of political meddling.

“A claim of selective prosecution is not implausible in this Justice Department,” Davis said.

…In his letter to Conyers and in an interview, Davis questioned whether Siegelman’s actions were criminal.

“He was prosecuted and convicted for receiving a campaign contribution and turning around and appointing someone to a board,” Davis said. “If that was the standard, we’d have 45 of 50 governors under investigation.” 

He has a point.  Perhaps Gov. Riley and Dr. Swaid Swaid should be getting their affairs in order.  Or not.  If the Justice Department started investigating every case of political contributors receiving cushy appointments, it would have to start with George W. Bush, his Pioneers, and the people he appointed to “reconstruct” Iraq.  Those alone could take years.

I confess to being torn about this case.  I was one of many Alabama citizens who was furious when Richard Scrushy was acquitted of fraud in the HealthSouth trial.  I was right there with a lot of other people who were just tickled when he was indicted again.  I figured at least he’d go down for something.  And I suspect the prosecution in Montgomery was happy to use that anger when it brought the case to trial.  That’s not conspiracy theory; it’s political reality.

I didn’t really have an opinion about Don Siegelman one way or the other.  Yeah, I voted for him in 1998, but he was running against Fob “Chain Gang” James, who claimed the Bill of Rights didn’t apply to Alabama.  I voted against the lottery, not because of some inherent opposition to gambling, but because it seemed like yet another way for the state to dance away from tax reform.  I’d heard some accusations of corruption, but it was hard to say whether there was really something illegal going on or if it was just politics as usual, skating the edge of ethical (BTW, I’ve had no luck finding links to Eddie Curran’s stories in the Mobile Register; if anyone knows where to find them, please let me know).  When he ran for the 2006 gubernatorial nomination, I was actually pretty pissed at what I considered to be a blatant display of chutzpah.

All that said, I have some serious concerns about this sentence.  As I’ve mentioned before, former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA), who raised corruption to the level of high art, taking millions in bribes, turning the Defense Department into his personal cash cow, and even having the gall to make lists of the luxury items he wanted in return for exerting his influence, is serving only eight years and four months in prison.  The US Attorney who investigated and brought charges against him was subsequently fired by the Bush administration.  Former Alabama Gov. Guy Hunt (R) was convicted of stealing $200,000 in tax-exempt contributions for his personal use but received no prison time  And just last week, when an appeals court refused to delay Scooter Libby‘s thirty-month prison term, George W. commuted his sentence, assuring he’d never serve a day behind bars (this after Libby was prosecuted and sentenced by Bush appointees).  So — was Siegelman’s sentence too severe, or were the final arbiters too lenient in these other cases?

On another point, I don’t know if Karl Rove had anything to do with Siegelman’s prosecution.  I do know that people who go around saying that Rove knows nothing and cares less about Alabama politics need to pull their collective head out of the sand.  They’re either ignoring history or have failed to do their homework.

Given my prejudices going into this prosecution, I’d likely still be cheering the conviction if this past year hadn’t brought so many revelations of politicization in the US Justice Department.  If Conyers and the House Judiciary Committee decide to investigate this case, the Bush administration has only itself to blame.  This one’s not over.

ADDENDUM: I just saw a comment at Danny’s place suggesting that it would be better to delay a Congressional investigation till after the appeals process is complete.  That may indeed be the best course.

Birmingham Weekly’s Coverage of Siegelman-Scrushy Sentencing

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Here’s Kyle’s cover story from this week’s issue.

Breaking: Siegelman, Scrushy Sentenced

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Siegelman: 88 months (7 years, 4 months), $50,000 fine, $181,325 restitution, 500 community service hours and 3 years’ supervised release after completion of sentence

Scrushy: 82 months (6 years, 10 months), $150,000 fine, $267,000 restitution (all to United Way), 500 community service hours and 3 years’ supervised release after completion of sentence

No bond.  They will be taken into custody tonight.  Speculation — Scrushy ultimately to Talladega, Siegelman to minimum security facility outside the state, possibly outside the southeast.

Birmingham News story

Siegelman-Scrushy Hearing Continues Today

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Helen Hammons is live-blogging for WSFA’s Courtroom Chronicles.  She expects a decision later today.

Fuller Hands Down Sentence Findings

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

UPDATE 2: Kyle revises his prediction, says Thursday will probably be the day and speculates 10-1/2 years for Siegelman, 9 for Scrushy.

UPDATE: Kyle says a sentence could come down late tomorrow, but it’s more likely to be Friday morning. 

But not sentences.  Not yet anyway.  Kyle reports:

After listening to a day and a half of arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller handed down his findings this afternoon as to where the defendants fall on the scale of federal sentencing guidelines. The federal sentencing guidelines are only advisory, and now prosecutors and defense attorneys will argue what sort of departure from the guidelines, if any, might be appropriate for the defendants.

Fuller says the guidelines for Siegelman indicate a sentence of 10 to 12-1/2 years (offense level 32) , with a fine ranging from $17,500 to $175,000.  For Scrushy, the range is 8 to 10 years (offense level 30).  In Siegelman’s case, this is far below the prosecution’s recommended level of 42 (see page 3 of the affidavit), which would have meant a 30-year sentence.

Now it’s up to the lawyers to argue for deviations from the recommendations.

Scrushy-Siegelman Sentencing Continues Today

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Today is the second day of the sentencing hearing.  Kyle at Mixed Media is attending, and he has summaries of Day 1 and Day 2, with updates as they happen.

ADDENDUM: TPM Muckraker has a feature on Siegelman’s sentencing.  Thanks, Pat.

Scrushy, Siegelman Sentencing Begins Today

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

The hearing started this morning in federal court in Montgomery.  Yesterday’s Birmingham News reported that it could last several days, characterizing it as a “mini-trial”.

All I have to say right now is if Randy “Duke” Cunningham skated away with only eight years and four months in prison for his multimillion-dollar bribery and corruption scheme (from which he personally benefitted handsomely) then there’s no way in hell Don Siegelman deserves 30 years in the pen.

Sielgelman, Scrushy To Be Sentenced Tuesday

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

Judge Mark Fuller has denied the remaining defense motions, clearing the way for Tuesday’s sentencing.  I’ll just admit right here that I was one of the people who was furious that Richard Scrushy was acquitted in his HealthSouth fraud trial, and I was feeling the schadenfreude when he was tripped up in Montgomery.

That said, the sentences requested by the prosecutors — 30 years for Siegelman, 25 for Scrushy — are way out of line.  Siegelman in particular is not accused of receiving any personal benefit (which is more than I can say re: Scrushy and Healthsouth).  In any case, both men plan to appeal to the 11th Circuit Court after they are sentenced.

This prosecution may have been strictly on the up and up.  For a long time, I thought it was — although, as I said above, my judgment may have been colored just a bit by my intense disdain for Richard Scrushy and what he did to HealthSouth.  Now, in the wake of the US attorney scandals, there have been serious questions raised about the motivation behind the charges.  The Bush Justice Department has only itself to blame for that.