Justice For Sale? FBI Wire Taps Revealing - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Oxford 02/20/08

Justice For Sale? FBI Wire Taps Revealing

By Marsha Thompson
marsha@wlbt.net

We have an inside track on key evidence introduced Wednesday in the Scruggs bribery case. WLBT News obtained wiretap documents, evidence the government will use to help make their case. These transcripts reveal wire taps and secretly-recorded conversations surrounding the alleged bribery of Judge Henry Lackey in 2007. Timothy Balducci is wired during a conversation on November 1 with  lawyers Zach Scruggs, and Sidney Backstrom at the Scruggs Law Firm in Oxford. Balducci encourages them to read the judges order that "they agreed to pay for."

The government says Backstrom questioned some of the language. Backstrom made the statement, "changes would gum things up."  A bribe the government says that had been in the works for 8 months. The transcript also reveals Balducci told Backstrom, "I've got to go back for another delivery of ..another bushel of sweet potatoes down there....get it how you want it, cause we're paying for it to get it done right" Backstrom replies, "I'd just get er' done." The government maintains the lawyers spoke of the court order as if it would be written literally, anyway they wanted.

Another taped phone call was made November 13th. Balducci is bringing Backstrom up to date on the matter. Balducci tells Backstrom, "We've given him 50 thousand to get us where we are now for a little more, he's willing to play and get it like we want it." Backstrom: "If we overreach again, it will probably come back to bite us." Both men agree to tell Judge Lackey to go ahead and get it done. In response to Scruggs and Backstrom asking for dismissal of the case, the government included this evidence.

Balducci was wired when he told Dickie Scruggs he had dropped off the order about 10 days ago, the same day he picked up his 40-thousand dollar package. When he asked Scruggs if the judges revised order was okay, Scruggs responded with a grammatical criticism of the last sentence. Balducci indicated the Judge was nervous. He told Scruggs Judge Lackey wanted to know if he (Scruggs) would do a little more. About ten or so more.  The government claims Scruggs said "That he would take care of it."

This is a small portion of court ordered wiretaps along with trap and trace evidence the government claims was used to to subvert justice and buy a judge.

Dickie and Zach Scruggs and Sidney Backstrom have pleaded not guilty. They say Balducci acted alone.  Former state auditor Steve Patterson, who is Balducci's former business partner, also pleaded guilty in the case. On January 7, Richard Scruggs' former defense attorney, Joey Langston, pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally influence DeLaughter in a dispute with other lawyers over fees from asbestos litigation.     

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