THIRD UPDATE: Here’s a copy of the transcript of Zach Scruggs’ plea agreement. I heard it was available on folo and maybe other websites, but I had already ordered it by the time I heard that, so what the heck, the $21 cost of the transcript is on me.
SECOND UPDATE: Here are some of the documents from the plea.
Since it’s a felony, of course his law license is gone too.
FIRST UPDATE: A few additional details from a follow-up phone interview I did with our correspondent —
Zach’s mother, Diane, was in court. She did not look nearly as frail as she did last week when Dickie pleaded, was holding up better. Dickie (wisely) was not present.
Our correspondent has seen Zach in court before, feels he exudes an aura of arrogance which was also manifest today. Zach did not do himself any favors, our correspondent says, during his allocution. Unlike Sid Backstrom last week, he did not break down or even come close, or really even give a sincere apology. His speech talked of his love for the legal system and how he really didn’t know what was going on. Judge Biggers appeared chagrined that the deal included no time in prison for Zach, our correspondent believes that will not sit well with Biggers and he will sentence Zach to some time.
Is it over now? Probably not. There is the Wilson case. There are the 50 sealed indictments out there, which I have heard about for months and about which I have been skeptical, but which some sophisticated people believe are real and not myth.
ORIGINAL POST: Here is a report from ICLB’s ever-dependable Oxford correspondent, whose identity remains confidential to readers but whom I vouch for.
Zach pleaded guilty to a one-count information for misprision of felony. He stood before Judge Biggers with his attorneys Mike Moore and Todd Graves. David Sanders represented the government.
The elements of the crime that he committed are as follows:
1. federal felony was committed.
2. he had knowledge of the felony
3. failure to notify authorities
4. committed an act to conceal the crime.
Max possible penalty is 3 years, $250,000 penalty, supervised release up to one year.
Zach waived indictment in exchange for dismissal of original indictment and not being charged with offenses related to the charge.
Government recommended probated sentence.
Judge pointed out that the sentence recommended was not binding on the court. The judge asked Zach if anyone had made any prediction as to his sentence, to which Zach respoonded that no one had.
The charge stems from a meeting on 3/15/07 where Zach, Dickie Scruggs, Backstrom, Patterson and Balducci met and discussed Balducci’s relationship with Judge Lackey and at the meeting it was decided that Balducci would speak to Judge Lackey about making a favorable ruling for defendants in Jones v. Scruggs.
The judge noted that the government was going from charging Zach to 6-count felony indictment to one count misprision of felony. This observer got the impression that Zach was getting a sweet deal with his plea, and that Judge Biggers thought so as well.
Zach asked to address the court and noted that no one was "sorrier than I." He pointed out that he did not bribe or conspire to bribe Judge Lackey nor did he have knowledge of a bribe. He did, however, have knowledge of improper contacts by Balducci to Judge Lackey and had a duty to prevent these, in which he failed. He said he had a duty to prevent ex parte contact. Talked about the duty he owed to the legal profession and how he was truly sorry to the legal profession and how he loved the legal profession. Judge Biggers responded: the "legal profession that you say you love so much you will not be a part of for the rest of your life."
This was just filed — a waiver of indictment by Zach, allowing a charge of misprision of a felony to be brought through an information rather than an indictment.