Siegelman Scrushy corruption case

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The Siegelman Scrushy corruption case began with a federal indictment on racketeering, bribery and extortion charges unsealed on October 26, 2005 against former Governor Don Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, along with Siegelman's former chief of staff Paul Hamrick and former Alabama Department of Transportation director Mack Roberts.

The indictment, brought down in May by a grand jury, alleged that Scrushy donated more than $500,000 to Siegelman's campaign to establish a state lottery, in exchange for official favors from Siegelman's office during his term as Governor. Additional charges of mail fraud and conspiracy were added during a December 12 grand jury, alleging that Siegelman conspired with Scrushy to give HealthSouth undue influence on the Alabama Certificate of Need Review Board.

U.S. Attorney Leura Canary withdrew from the case because her husband, Bill Canary, employed by the Business Council of Alabama, had managed Bob Riley's 2002 gubernatorial campaign against Siegelman. Instead Louis V. Franklin represented the government at trial.

The case was heard before Judge Mark Fuller of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama in early May 2006. Arguments were concluded in late June. The jury took 11 days to reach decisions on 62 counts. Siegelman and Scrushy both received multiple convictions while Roberts and Hamrick were exonerated. Lawyers for both guilty parties promised to appeal the verdicts.

On June 28, 2007 Fuller sentenced Siegelman to 88 months in prison followed by 36 months of probation. He was also fined $50,000, ordered to pay $181,325 in restitution, and required to perform 500 hours of community service. Scrushy was sentenced to 82 months imprisonment followed by 36 months on probation. He was also fined $150,000 and ordered to pay $267,000 in restitution and to reimburse the cost of his incarceration.

Siegelman initially reported to federal prison in Atlanta. On July 11, 2007, he was transferred to Oakdale Correctional Complex, a low security facility in central Louisiana.

After serving almost nine months in prison, Siegelman was released on appeal on March 27, 2008 by U.S. Judges Susan H. Black and Stanley Marcus of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The judges stated that Seigelman met the requirements of an appeal bond. The House Judiciary Committee began investigating allegations that partisans in the Justice Department pursued cases against Democrats for political reasons, and Siegelman's was one of several cases under scrutiny. Before his release, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Representative John Conyers of Michigan asked the Justice Department to transport Siegelman from prison to Capitol Hill for a hearing later that spring.

Scrushy was released into a halfway house in April 2012, given home confinement a month later, and fully released in July. Meanwhile, on June 4, 2012 the United States Supreme Court declined to hear Siegelman's appeal. The U.S. Department of Justice filed briefs arguing that overturning Siegelman's conviction would encourage the exchange of political donations for official acts. Later that year, when a handful of criminal counts were overturned on appeal, Fuller resentenced Siegelman to 78 months of imprisonment.

In May 2015 an appeals court rejected another petition from Siegelman's attorneys arguing that Leura Canary, despite her "recusal", had played a significant role in his prosecution. In October of that year, Siegelman was interviewed by telephone on the Thom Hartmann radio program. As punishment, he was ordered to spend 57 days in solitary confinement. He was returned to solitary confinement in April 2016 after he was quoted in a story in The Washington Post. The former governor remained in prison until given a conditional release into supervised probation in February 2017.

References

  • "Scrushy Seeks Separate Trial in Bribery Case" (December 28, 2005) Bloomberg News
  • McLaughlin, Bud (June 24, 2007) "Siegelman awaits sentencing Tuesday." Huntsville Times
  • Horton, Scott (September 14, 2007) "The Remarkable ‘Recusal’ of Leura Canary" Harper's magazine
  • "Don Siegelman denied new trial: Bribery conviction, prison sentence upheld by federal appeals court." (May 20, 2015) Associated Press