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Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Scruggs video after second guilty plea

Posted by paulquinn on February 11, 2009

A Youtube video of Richard Dickie Scruggs leaving the courthouse in an oraange jump-suit after he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to an additional 7 years.  The Scruggs youtube video also shows excerpts from a press conferance with U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee, and FBI Assisstant Special Agent Wilfred Rattigan. 

In my question regarding immunity, I have heard one of the suspects in “Scruggs II” was offered an immunity deal to talk about his role in the bribe. 


Posted in bribing, conspiracy, Crime, Delaughter, Dickie Scruggs, Journalism, Judge Lackey, Mississippi, Ole Miss, Scruggs | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Grand Jury set to hear threats against Bush

Posted by paulquinn on September 8, 2008

I wrote a story that appeared in today’s Clarion-Ledger. An interesting and odd story to report, I found.

Here is the link.

This story initially caught my attention after I read an affidavit from the U.S. Secret Service.

Some excerpts that I thought might have some folks scratching their head.

   “Neal? its me – Barbra. I created a fraud account from an unknown
computer so nobody can track us. They have a tracker on my phone
though so do not call it. I’m thinking about going to North Carolina.
RESOND,” Barbra Roylance Roylance allegedly wrote.

“(Thomas fled) in order to take the high ground for his protection
against the government’s declaration of martial law,” the affidavit

We’ll have to see how this one shapes up.



Posted in Crime, Pres. Bush, Presidential debate, Secret Service | Leave a Comment »

NPR talks with Boyer on Scruggs

Posted by paulquinn on June 29, 2008

NPR sits with The New Yorker writer Peter Boyer about Dickie Scruggs’ history, the case that made him bribe and the bribe itself.  Boyer wrote a profile of Scruggs in the May 19 issue of The New Yorker. He gives his own insight into Scruggs based on his research.

Here is the NPR recording.


Posted in Crime, Scruggs, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Scruggs news: co-conspirator says too much money

Posted by paulquinn on June 12, 2008

Sideny Backstrom has objected to the pre-sentencing report written by U.S. probation services. An objection filed Thursday said there is no way for Judge Neal Biggers to know how much money, if any, the Scruggs Law Firm, and those guilty of attempted bribery, stood to gain.

The Clarion-Ledger ran an AP story Thursday which said:

“Backstrom also objects to the report’s conclusion that the defendants’ “net benefit” from bribing Lackey was $5.3 million — or one-fifth of the $26.5 million in fees from a mass settlement of Hurricane Katrina insurance lawsuits.

Other lawyers who had worked with Scruggs on the settlement sued him for a greater share of the fees. Prosecutors claim Scruggs, his son, Backstrom and Balducci conspired to pay Lackey $40,000 in exchange for an order that would have sent that lawsuit to arbitration.
Backstrom argues that $40,000, not $5.3 million, is the amount that U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers should use to calculate a sentence in the criminal case.
“It does seem a bit harsh that they have chosen the amount of the dispute rather than the amount of the bribe,” said Dane Ciolino, a law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans who reviewed the probation officials’ report.
Ciolino said the judge isn’t bound by the report’s conclusions or the sentencing guidelines, but he added, “As a practical matter, they still do follow them.”
The bribe was an attempt to have the case sent to arbitration, not for a ruling in how to split the $26.5 million. The difference between the two is huge when a judge looks at the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which are rules a judge generally follow when sentencing someone. There hasn’t been a response filed by the govt.

I imagine if the judges agrees with Backstrom, Dickie Scruggs, Tim Balducci, and Steve Patterson would all benefit. Scruggs son Zach pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of not reporting the illeagal activity.

Other issues at stake our weather Backstrom acted in a managerial role by directing bag-man Balducci during the course of the bribe. Backstrom is saying he was a go between and never told Balducci what to do.

The conents of the actual pre-sentence report hasn’t been made public.

Posted in Crime, Journalism, Scruggs, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Scruggs case puts Miss. in national spotlight

Posted by paulquinn on June 12, 2008

The Dickie Scruggs Saga didn’t start in Nov. 2007 when he and five others were indicted on conspiracy charges, headlines bearing Scruggs name are almost a past-time in Mississippi. Asbestos, tobacco, and Katrina all put Scruggs in the paper; now the bribe and the famed attorney’s methods are making headlines nationwide.

Thursday’s Wall Street Journal ran an anti-Jim Hood, Mississippi attorney general, editorial about Hoods accepting State Farm’s Katrina related files from Scruggs, who obtained the files from State Farm insider’s Cori and Kerri Rigsby. The Rigsby’s worked for insurance adjuster E.A. Renfroe a company contracted by State Farm to handle claims on coastal Mississippi post-Katrina.

The editorial is referring to a ruling by federal Judge William Acker costing Scruggs and the Rigsby’s $65,000. The ruling was covered by the WSJ (again), USA Today, and at least 100 more news websites and blogs.

In an article written by Peter Boyer, appearing in the May 19 edition of The New Yorker, Boyer writes 18 pages outlining Scruggs affiliation with Ole Miss, his past lawsuits, and the bribe attempt of Judge Lackey. Here is a teaser, the full story is only obtainable in print form or with subscription to The New Yorker.

When the sentencing date for Scruggs and two others was announced AP stories appeared on CNN and Forbes‘s Website.

The day Scruggs pleaded guilty stories were written by the New York Times, The LA Times, and ABC news.

Also, on the day he pleaded guilty The Wall Street Journal wrote several thousand words pertaining to the bribe and other Scruggs issues, it was released prior to Scruggs pleading guilty. The story can only be seen with an online subscription. Another teaser is on their website.

Two months after the indictment Nelson Schwartz, for the New York Times, wrote an extended feature outlining the saga of Scruggs up until that point.

When Scruggs was indicted for attempting to bribe Lackey the NY Times had the story, along with every other major newspaper in the country. Several days later, when Hillary Clinton cancelled a fundraiser at Scruggs house, New York magazine wrote about Clinton’s dilemma.

Before the bribe attempt Scruggs was in the media some but not like after November 28. Scruggs made national headlines when he won billions of dollars for Mississippi when he beat big tobacco. PBS’s Frontline had an interview with Scruggs about the lawsuit; the movie The Insider also portrayed the fight with tobacco.

There is the soon to come book being written by veteran reporter and Ole Miss Professor Curtis Wilkie.

Scruggs actions have been written about for almost 20 years, some good some bad. My only hope is Mississippi’s national attention is portrayed accuartley when the presidential debate happens in September.

Posted in Crime, Dickie Scruggs, Journalism, Mississippi, New York Times, Ole Miss, Presidential debate | Leave a Comment »

Ole Miss’s racial past documented

Posted by paulquinn on June 10, 2008

Ole Miss deals with race almost every year. Last semester it was rumble in the circle, when six female student’s escalating dispute resulted in a box cutter fight captured on youtube.

Here is a comment left on the DM’s story. Stan Jones wrote:

” As a proud Ole Miss alum, let me be the first to say way to represent our fine institution with class and grace….

They may do this type of garbage at Memphis State or at Alcorn, but it has no place here. A boxcutter??…hope they stick you under the jail?

Alcorn State and Memphis State are predominately black schools

In fall 2007 The DM’s Nicole Spinuzzi wrote about freshman Jeremiah Taylor being pushed down the stairs of the Deke house after being told there was a “racial rush list.”

Deke’s were eventually suspended.

While other racial incidents have happened since 2002, this next story, which appeared in Campus Report, a news service where “articles focus on three issues: the exploitation of the classroom or university resources to indoctrinate students; discrimination against students, faculty or administrators based on political or academic beliefs; and campus violations of free speech,” is an interesting look at what happened when several black students wrote racial slurs on some dorm room doors.

Sara Russo writes:

“When obscene and racist slurs were found scrawled on the dormitory doors of several black students at the University of Mississippi, administrators at the school wasted no time convening tolerance meetings and suggesting that federal hate crimes charges might be brought against the perpetrators. The national news media rushed to cover the story. One month later, when it was discovered that the graffiti artists were three black students, the University failed to file criminal charges against the culprits and penalized them with probation, community service, and research papers.”

The list could go on but I don’t want to be here all day.

Posted in Crime, Journalism, Ole Miss | Leave a Comment »

Mississippi Mud- A book review

Posted by paulquinn on June 7, 2008

*Contains no “spoiler” only plot hints made obvious by the author from the start of his book*

When a Biloxi judge and his mayoral candidate wife were killed in the 1980’s the Mississippi Gulf Coast was in the clutches of one of the worst mafias to grace our United States; or, at least that’s how award winning author Edward Humes portrays the Dixie Mafia in his 1994 masterpiece Mississippi Mud.

Humes’ non-fiction tale reads more like a James Lee Burke murder mystery than a factual account from the Pulitzer Prize winning author and reporter. Mississippi Mud is a serious whodunnit mystery eventually leading to arrests of Biloxi’s most well-known and liked men.  Humes writes about the last co-conspirator to go down in a final online chapter.

The book follows the life of orphaned daughter, Lynne Sposito, who turned investigator as she tracked down her parent’s murderers, receiving death threats and dealing with troubled teenagers along the way.

Understanding why Sposito’s parents were killed is essential to figuring out who killed the former criminal defense lawyer turned judge and his wife. Both lived lives conducive to making enemies.  

A picture of Biloxi and its seedy underworld where gambling, prostitution, drug-deals, and murder-for-hires occur while the police turn blind eyes for the right price, is painted by Humes in the second book of his 325 page four-part page turner. 

A career criminal who couldn’t catch a break on the outside manages to make millions of dollars scamming unsuspecting homosexuals from inside Angola Penitentiary in Louisiana. The why, the how, and the criminal’s defense in court warrant a full length novel; however, the book is a most scandalous murder mystery with twists and turns that don’t end untill the final online chapter.

How does every crime drama end? In court. And in true dramatic form the murder case against five co-conspirators unfolds at the end of Mississippi Mud. Old-fashion, high-priced Mississippi defense attorneys versus the Federal Government, who were determined they couldn’t win the unprecedented, seemingly outlandish case.   

If you’re wary Mississippi Mud will only entertain us “Mississippi folk” you’ll miss out on a fascinating enjoyable read any crime novel reader-mystery scandal solver-mafia lover-court room drama expert-southern history buff-aspiring investigative journalist would love.  

Posted in Biloxi, Book review, Crime, Dixie Mafia, Edward Humes, Journalism, Mississippi Mud | Leave a Comment »

UPDATE: The DM and OPD come to understanding

Posted by paulquinn on May 7, 2008

Yesterday I posted about Oxford Police asking for a statement or a copy of DM reporter Victoria Howell’s notes regarding a story she wrote.

Since my post the OPD lieutenant trying to get information has been informed of our attorney’s advice. He was not surprised and even expected to be told Howell would have to be subpoenaed before any information could be handed over.

He mentioned the idea of an “off the record” conversation with Howell, however the information OPD wants Howell does not have. When I asked him what kind of “off-the-record” information OPD wanted he said, “Just who we might need to go talk to.”

Howell could not get a hold of anybody else who knew anything so he let the “off-the-record” idea rest.

“Depends on what we can put together without her,” was the lieutenant’s response when I inquired if they still planned to subpoena Howell, “tell Victoria she doesn’t need to worry at this point.” (emphasis mine)

Then we talked about how The DM picked up the story. I explained rumors around campus of Ole Miss basketball player Brandi Tipton getting injured in a late night car crash was what tipped us off. He said that made sense and that was that.

It seems for now OPD will continue their investigation into O’ Conner but, will back off Howell. O’ Conner just said he hit Tipton late one night on his way home, then was arrested after he and Tipton got into it at the hospital.

Hopefully OPD’s investigation doesn’t require Howell’s testimony but, we won’t know anything for a while now.

Posted in Crime, Journalism, Ole Miss | 3 Comments »

The Daily Mississippian stands up

Posted by paulquinn on May 6, 2008

Here is the story

This story was printed in The Daily Mississippian (DM) last week.

The day our story ran a lieutenant sent me a text message asking if he could interview reporter Victoria Howell or get her notes. He said they would be issuing a grand jury subpoena if she did not cooperate. I referred him to the Student Media Center’s director Traci Mitchell.

On Monday Ms. Mitchell contacted the Mississippi Press Association legal helpline.

The association’s law firm Butler Snow advised Ms. Mitchell law enforcement can subpoena journalist for their notes if it contains relevant-material information that can not be obtained otherwise. And added that journalist should not hand over notes without a subpoena. In this case OPD can contact the two driver’s or the paramedics who responded to the scene, meaning the information can be obtained without Ms. Howell’s notes.

Ms. Mitchell was planning to let the lieutenant know of our lawyers advise, and hoped that would be the end of this mess. So far no word on how OPD reacted.

The lieutenant said Logan O’ Conner had incriminated himself in statements made to The DM. I speculate they want to charge him with DUI on top of Public Drunk. He admitted to driving the car that hit Ole Miss basketball player Brandi Tipton, however my understating is O’ Conner said he had one beer.

Here is the statement OPD is looking at:

“It was really late, and I was coming from a birthday party to go home,” O’Connor said. “I was traveling on University Avenue, where there is construction going on. The two inside lanes were closed off with construction barrels, but the workers left an opening so that people on my street can turn in.”

O’Connor said he looked both ways before turning onto the street.

“I did not see anyone. I turned, and we collided,” he said.

Journalist sometimes spend months in jail trying to protect their sources, and for a good reason. If newspapers could not protect its sources then folks would fear what employers, family and friends might do if potentially damning information is revealed.

Posted in Crime, Journalism | 3 Comments »