Businessman, Siegelman Co-Defendant, DOJ Victim Richard Scrushy To Provide Litigation Lessons For Whistleblowers In DC July 29
Richard Scrushy, the founder and former CEO of the multi-billion-dollar HealthSouth, Inc. and co-defendant in one of the most widely condemned federal prosecutions in recent U.S. history, will share his hard-won insights July 29 on Capitol Hill and at the National Press Club.
Scrushy, still an entrepreneur and now also an author and motivational speaker, speaks at 4 p.m. on the opening day of the annual Whistle Blowers Summit to advise others on coping with the legal hardships that many whistleblowers must endure. At 6:30 p.m., he talks to the National Press Club’s McClendon Group at an informal dinner open to the press and public.
Along with advice, Scrushy provides his take on the long prison terms he and former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman have endured on corruption charges stemming from 1999 actions despite gross courtroom irregularities and unprecedented nationwide protests by legal experts. Siegelman is scheduled for release in mid-2017.
Scrushy was convicted solely for what he describes as a $250,000 HealthSouth donation much like that of several other big Alabama companies. It was to defray the costs of a failed 1998 referendum to increase state funding for K-12 schools with state lottery proceeds. He says prosecutors won their case by exaggerating the donation’s size, source, destination, and purpose – and pressuring their star witness Nick Bailey into a false testimony motivated by the serious charges Bailey faced in another case.
Scrushy received a 78-month term from federal trial judge Mark Fuller, who has since become so scandal-ridden that he resigns his lifetime post Aug. 1 after a wife-beating arrest last year. Our project has covered the judge (shown in a file photo) in depth for years, as in our column last month: Wife-Beating Siegelman Judge Resigns, Ends Horrid Career With Civic Lesson.
Many whistleblowers and other critics have documented irregularities of the federal Siegelman-Scrushy prosecution.
In 2008, CBS “60 Minutes” presented Republican lawyer Dana Jill Simpson, shown at left. She said Scrushy, a Republican, was a fall guy targeted in a political plot to end the career of Siegelman, Alabama’s state’s most popular Democrat.
In an unprecedented filing to the U.S. Supreme Court, 113 former state attorneys general — former chief law enforcers of more than 40 states — protested the legal basis of the prosecution. Conservative syndicated columnist George Will is among those who wrote that there was no basis for Scrushy's imprisonment, and Fox News host Neal Cavuto is among those who have hosted the defendant following his release in highly sympathetic interviews.
Yet courts have consistently rejected the defendants’ major appeals while dismissing some of the charges and slightly reducing the original sentences.
Among many rejected appeals was Scrushy’s argument that the trial judge Fuller should have recused himself instead of hiding secret ownership of up to 44 percent of Doss Aviation, Inc.
Unknown to defendants, Doss received $300 million in no-bid federal contracts for such purposes as training U.S. and Saudi Air Force pilots, and refueling Air Force planes, including the presidential Air Force One.
Underscoring bizarre military undercurrents of the prosecution, an Air Force Reserves colonel served as one of the top prosecutors. At great expense, a special joint federal-state task force was created also at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery for the purpose of investigating Siegelman.
The secret procedures continue. Siegelman and Scrushy have been denied materials supposed to be delivered to defendants before their trials under Supreme Court rules. CBS showed, for example, that authorities coached and threatened their witness Bailey up to 70 times without required pre-trial disclosure to defendants. Post-trial investigation by defendants indicated that authorities threatened the witness with up to ten years in prison for his separate offenses and warned that he would likely be raped during such a long sentence.
To repeat: Richard Scrushy and Don Siegelman were tried before a judge whose mind-boggling conflicts of interest included being by far the largest shareholder in a company, Doss Aviation, that trains Air Force pilots and refuels Air Force planes, including ones (portrayed above) transporting presidents.
For emphasis, we rephrase the information noted above because this is a complex matter in which authorities maintain they have always acted normally and legally. Indeed, the Obama administration reaffirmed its support for the prosecution in an extraordinary manner by leaving the controversial Bush administration U.S. Attorney Leura Canary in charge of the Montgomery office for more than two years after Obama took office, and then naming Nick Bailey's defense attorney George Beck to succeed Canary, another remarkable conflict of interest in a case filled with them.
An appendix below documents the material above, including with links to many other news articles and commentaries.
And for years, defendants could get no relief no matter what experts and arguments they assembled and what kind of opposition they generated. Protests from emails, phone calls, petition signatures have totaled well over 150,000 by our estimate to the Bush and Obama administrations to no avail.
Think about that and the lessons learned by Richard Scrushy, among others, that he is bravely and generously willing to share next week to advise others.
Scrushy is now the president/CEO of the consulting company 7venth Power and last year published, When Building A Billion Dollar Company” – Here Are A Few Things To Think About. As indicated by his company website and book, his focus remains on business and positive motivational stories. These are drawn from his life story of entrepreneurial efforts arising from his modest origins. He was born in 1952 to working parents in Selma, Alabama, one of the birthplaces of the 1960s civil rights movement.
However, Scrushy has generously revisited on request the nightmare of his federal prosecution and imprisonment, which inflicted collateral damage not simply on the co-defendants (some of whom were acquitted) but also upon many families, including those of whistle blowers who stepped forward only to be crushed by government reprisal taking several forms.
In 2009, the Justice Department fired Tamarah Grimes, its top paralegal working on the Siegelman-Scrushy case, for example, after she complained of irregularities on the case to Attorney Gen. Eric Holder.
Scrushy, as reported by Roger Shuler and Peter B. Collins here Feds Promised To Release Scrushy From Prosecution If He Provided False Testimony Against Siegelman, and the still-imprisoned former Jefferson County Commissioner Gary Smith, another Republican, separately claimed they turned down plea offers that would have won them leniency if they perjured themselves to implicate Siegelman.
Under the Bush and Obama administrations, the Justice Department has denied irregularities and vigorously fought all defendant appeals. President Obama’s first Solicitor General Elena Kagan, now a Supreme Court justice, signed briefs in 2009 opposing one major appeal.
Scrushy will speak on a 4 p.m. panel at the Summit entitled "Political Prosecutions and the Danger to Democracy." Two other speakers will share their powerful first-hand experiences fighting injustice regarding: 1) electronic surveillance of U.S. citizens without probable cause; and 2) the safety protection of U.S. presidents. The speakers on those issues will be:
● Former Qwest Communications Chairman/CEO Joseph Nacchio, a critic of the new USA Freedom Act for what he describes as its inadequate privacy protections for the public; and
● Abraham Bolden, 80, (via Skype because of his age), recruited by President John F. Kennedy to become the first African American Secret Service officer guarding a president. In Bolden’s memoir “The Echo from Dealey Plaza,” he alleged gross Secret Service misconduct.
As moderator on behalf of the Justice Integrity Project, this editor has written extensively about the panelists, whose cases are treated in our forthcoming book, Presidential Puppetry 2016: The Candidates’ Secrets.
Free registration for the Summit begins at 9 a.m. at the Stewart Mott House, 122 Maryland Ave, NE.
Nacchio speaks also at a 10 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club and Scrushy at a 6:30 p.m. dinner, also at the club located at 529 14th St., NW. The Dutch-treat dinner is open to the public, with free parking with validating at the PMI garage on G Street NW.
Scrushy is President/ CEO of 7venth Power, Inc., which helps businesses achieve their goals. He founded and served as chairman/CEO two Fortune 500 companies with revenues in the billions of dollars. One became a leading healthcare company with 2,350 locations and employing more than 52,000 people. He helped found other companies, closing hundreds of acquisitions and raising billions of dollars.
Married, he is a father of nine children and grandfather of six. He is shown in a family photo with a son while imprisoned. He is also a commercial pilot, author, musician, and song writer. Company details are here and his biography is here.
The Whistle Blowers Summit for Civil and Human Rights began in May 2007, when whistleblowers starting meeting annually for education and advocacy at a free conference in Washington, DC. The general theme for this year’s Summit from July 29-31 is “Black Lives Matter — The Movement!” Summit panels and events include other major speakers, plus practical tips, book signings, other networking. Details.
The Justice Integrity Project has been privileged to work with other Summit organizers to feature on one panel three such important political prisoners as Scrushy, Nacchio and Bolden. To present in tandem their powerful stories is a rare if not unique event. Each tale reinforces those of the others.
In a forthcoming article, we shall present many parallels between the Scrushy and Nacchio stories especially, noting among other things that the Supreme Court denied them rehearings despite extremely unusual if not unique expert friend-of-the-court submissions from independent experts and that each of their trial judges resigned lifetime appointments because of sex scandals, suggesting corruption, blackmail, or other unusual circumstance.
In June 2009, we explored the concept of political prosecutions in American during a three-hour forum at the National Press Club cablecast by C-SPAN and regarded as one of the first such conference to tackle the problem head on. Rarely in memory, however, have so many political victims of such stature spoken out and also drawn the connection with underlying issues at the core of democracy, such as assassination, due process, and electronic violation of the privacy rights of all Americans.
Join us if you can and help us republicize these kinds of long-suppressed issues.
Selected Justice Integrity Project Coverage
The rarely photographed U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery is shown at left in chambers in a portrait by freelancer Phil Fleming, used here with permission. The photo was minutes after the Siegelman-Scrushy jury verdict in June 2006. The convictions followed a nearly hung jury in what was a second trial for each defendant. Fleming told the Justice Integrity Project that he suggested to the judge that he "cut the Cheshire cat look" because looking too happy after a conviction seemed undignified for a portrait.
Huffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company, Andrew Kreig, May 15, 2009. The Alabama federal judge who presided over the 2006 corruption trial of the state's former governor holds a grudge against the defendant for helping to expose the judge's own alleged corruption six years ago. Former Gov. Don Siegelman therefore deserves a new trial with an unbiased judge ─ not one whose privately owned company, Doss Aviation, has been enriched by the Bush administration's award of $300 million in contracts since 2006, making the judge millions in non-judicial income. These are the opinions of Missouri attorney Paul B. Weeks, who is speaking out publicly for the first time since his effort in 2003 to obtain the impeachment of U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery on Doss Aviation-related allegations.
Huffington Post, Siegelman's First Trial Judge Blasts U.S. Prosecutors, Seeks Probe of 'Unfounded' Charges, May 21, 2009, Andrew Kreig, One of the most experienced federal judges in recent Alabama history is denouncing the U.S. Justice Department prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Retired Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham calls for a probe of misconduct by federal prosecutors ─ including their alleged "judge-shopping," jury-pool "poisoning" and "unfounded" criminal charges in an effort to imprison Siegelman.
C-SPAN, Prosecutorial Misconduct Forum At National Press Club, June 26, 2009 (3 hours, 4 minutes).
Huffington Post, Alabama Decisions Illustrate Abuse of Judicial Power, Andrew Kreig, June 10, 2009. The plight of litigants who face a biased judge is illustrated by the track record of a prominent Alabama federal judge, as well by major recent decisions requiring new trials in West Virginia and Georgia courts. The track record of Chief U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery, Alabama shows that he continues to supervise cases compromised by his personal, financial or political interests despite his promise at his 2002 confirmation hearing to recuse himself from any conflicts. Exposure of Fuller's record is timely because of the Senate's forthcoming hearings for Obama administration judicial nominees, and because of growing concerns about the recusal standard. These include the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling June 8 that a West Virginia Supreme Court judge should have recused himself from a case involving a major contributor to his judicial election campaign. Also, a federal judge in Georgia admitted last month that he shouldn't have tried and sentenced a high-profile political adversary who now seeks dismissal of the charges.
Huffington Post, As Rove Testifies About Firings At Justice, Why Did DoJ Fire Whistleblower? July 8, 2009. New questions are surfacing about political intrigue at the U.S. Justice Department after former White House political strategist Karl Rove provided his long-awaited responses to House Judiciary Committee staff Tuesday about allegations that he pressured prosecutors to target Democrats nationally. Few details have emerged about Rove's questioning on such topics as the 2006 dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys for political reasons. By remarkable coincidence, however, the Justice Department separately confirmed Tuesday that it has fired Alabama whistleblower Tamarah Grimes. She was the top in-house paralegal for the prosecution team that won corruption convictions in 2006 against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. Grimes later provided her Justice Department superiors and Congress with evidence that the rights of the defendants were violated. Siegelman and Scrushy cited her revelations heavily in their motions since June 26 for a new trial based on new evidence. In an interview today for this article, Grimes alleged a bone-chilling conspiracy to frame the defendants for political gain. She says her experiences opened her eyes to parallels outside Alabama and to the ruinous consequences for federal government employees of protesting injustice. "No one helps you," says Grimes, who adds that she was browbeaten with threats of false criminal charges by her superiors and investigators alike. She says Congress needs to enhance protections for whistleblowers to prevent wrongdoing by government officials. Justice Department spokesman Tracy Schmaler responded, "The Department takes seriously its obligation under the whistleblower law, and did not violate it with regards to the termination of this employee. For privacy reasons, it would be inappropriate to comment any further on this personnel matter at this time."
Justice Integrity Project, Part I: Senate Must Grill Tainted Alabama DOJ Nominee, Andrew Kreig, April 5, 2011. Part I of a four-part series on the Obama administration's nominee George Beck to become U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, succeeding Leura Canary.
Huffington Post, As Rove Testifies About Firings At Justice, Why Did DoJ Fire Whistleblower? Andrew Kreig, July 8, 2009. New questions are surfacing about political intrigue at the U.S. Justice Department after former White House political strategist Karl Rove provided his long-awaited responses to House Judiciary Committee staff Tuesday about allegations that he pressured prosecutors to target Democrats nationally. Few details have emerged about Rove's questioning on such topics as the 2006 dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys for political reasons.
Justice Integrity Project, Inside Story on DoD's $35 Billion Boeing Air Force Tanker Deal, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 25, 2011. The Department of Defense Thursday announced its choice of Boeing for a $35 billion contract to build the Air Force’s next generation of mid-air refueling tankers. Boeing’s selection, subject to any challenge by the losing bidder EADS, could end a decade-long, scandal-ridden process that became one of the controversial and important in modern U.S. procurement history. The Justice Integrity Project has tracked the proceeding closely for a year and a half after learning from reliable sources details about industrial espionage and skullduggery in the contract battle. This went far beyond even the scandals showcased in Senate oversight hearings led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Those scandals sent a Boeing executive and former Air Force procurement officer to prison on bribery charges and led to DoD revocation in 2005 of the initial award to Boeing.
Justice Integrity Project, Supreme Court Denies Siegelman, Scrushy Appeals, Andrew Kreig, June 4, 2012. True to recent form, the U.S. Supreme Court denied relief June 4 to former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges. This sets the stage for Siegelman's reimprisonment in the most notorious federal political prosecution and frame-up of the decade. The court denied without comment the certiorari petition of Siegelman and co-defendant Richard Scrushy, former CEO of HealthSouth, Inc. In 2007, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller sentenced them to seven-year prison terms on multiple charges from Siegelman's solicitation of donations from Scrushy in 1999 for the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation. Siegelman supported the foundation's initiatives to increase school funding with a state lottery over the opposition of a Republican-orchestrated coalition.
Justice Integrity Project, Judge Denies Siegelman Co-Defendant Scrushy New Trial, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 24, 2012. An Alabama federal judge imposed a reduced 70-month prison term for former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy Jan. 24 on a 2006 corruption conviction after denying Scrushy’s request for a retrial based on new evidence. Middle District Chief U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller resentenced Scrushy for bribery, conspiracy and fraud charges involving the one-time billionaire’s donation of $500,000 beginning in 1999 to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation at the request of then-Gov. Don Siegelman. Scrushy is shown at right with one of his sons during a prison visit.
Justice Integrity Project, Shackled Siegelman Typifies White House ‘Human Rights’ Charade, Andrew Kreig, Dec. 29, 2014. Federal authorities continued this month their remarkably harsh, unjust treatment of the nation’s most famous political prisoner. The U.S. legal jihad against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman continued even as the Obama administration separately cited “human rights” as the rationale for new U.S. sanctions and other interventions overseas.
Justice Integrity Project, Courts Strip Disgraced Judge Of Cases, Forbid Contact With Wife, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 17, 2014. A federal appeals court in Atlanta took the rare step last week of reassigning all cases from a prominent judge who had been arrested on a battery charge against his wife. Separately, a Fulton County court forbade U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller, 55, from contact with his wife Kelli Gregg Fuller, 41, a former deputy court clerk for Fuller who phoned police late Aug. 9 from a luxury hotel to say her husband was beating her after she accused him of having an affair with a law clerk.
Justice Integrity Project, Siegelman's Judge Charged With Wife-Beating, Affair With Clerk, Aug. 11, 2014. Atlanta police this weekend alleged wife-beating by the Alabama judge who helped railroad into prison former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Police charged U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller with battery early Aug. 10 following an altercation late Saturday night at the luxury Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Police did not identify the victim aside from saying it was Fuller's wife. Police reported that she was injured but declined hospital treatment.
Justice Integrity Project, Media Helped Eric Holder Polish His Image...."Bloody Sunday" Selma March Next Month Provides Another Stage, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 21, 2015. The media fail to report rampant abuses at the U.S. Justice Department: An overview of how a craven and compromised Big Media protect a Puppet President, his team, and the masters they all serve. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder polished his legacy Feb. 17 with a National Press Club speech that illustrated the sharp limits of political accountability and media curiosity in the nation’s capital. Holder (shown in an official photo) received for the most part the standard deferential treatment accorded to high officials. Moderators screened audience questions, as commonly the case, thereby keeping discussion focused within comfortable parameters.
Justice Integrity Project, Court Ruling Against Siegelman Compels New Strategies, Andrew Kreig, May 24, 2015. A federal appeals court last week rejected former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s latest appeal, thus inflicting a devastating defeat upon those who seek a rule of law in the United States. The misguided but unanimous ruling by three Atlanta-based judges requires new and more aggressive political priorities by justice seekers nationwide who have long been appalled by one of America’s worst human rights abuses.
We need to recognize more publicly that the vaunted U.S. system can inflict injustice repeatedly with utter ruthlessness and impunity in selective political prosecutions and cover-ups. The naïve believe that such judicial and prosecutorial misconduct occurs only overseas or in isolated and corrupt U.S. localities. Instead, certain prosecutions authorized at top federal levels are designed to ruin political enemies like Siegelman — his state’s most prominent Democrat during his 1999 to 2003 term and in the years shortly thereafter — and/or to protect the reputations of important institutions, as in the cover-up that has thwarted him and many other victims around the nation.
Justice Integrity Project, Wife-Beating Siegelman Judge Resigns, Ends Horrid Career With Civic Lesson, Andrew Kreig. June 4, 2015. A notorious federal judge has resigned under the threat of impeachment — and thus provided a harsh but useful lesson for civic activists everywhere. According to a federal court order June 1, fellow judges within the Atlanta-based Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recommended to the national Judicial Council that Alabama U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller be impeached as a first step for removal from his lifetime appointment. Fuller, a federal judge since 2002, announced through his attorneys his resignation effective Aug. 1. The resignation provides important civic lessons in the career of a judge whose disgraceful conduct we have been documenting for six years. But the system has protected him until an Atlanta policeman arrested him last August in Atlanta on a misdemeanor charge of battery against his then-wife, Kelli Gregg Fuller. He is shown in a jail mugshot the morning of his arrest. A close study here and elsewhere of Fuller’s record has shown that his legally dubious decision-making has:
• Benefited his political allies and other cronies;
• Inflicted great suffering on political and personal targets appearing in his court;
• Become involved in repeated personal scandals; and
• Received until now minimal correction from timid oversight systems in the courts, Executive Branch and congress.
Related News Coverage
Richard Scrushy and Don Siegelman
Alabama entrepreneur Richard Scrushy is shown in a file photo. Immediately below are excerpts from a series of powerful columns, mostly by Alabama blogger Roger Shuler, who has written hundreds about the Siegelman-Scrushy case. The columns are in chronological order. One is an exclusive radio interview of Scrushy by Peter B. Collins, which Shuler used as the basis for several commentaries.
Legal Schnauzer, Why Did Karl Rove and His GOP Thugs Target Don Siegelman in Alabama? Roger Shuler, Feb. 6, 2012. (1) Why did Karl Rove and his pro-business GOP thugs target Alabama Democratic Governor Don Siegelman? (2) Why did the Bush administration proceed with what has become the most notorious political prosecution in American history? Those questions are particularly powerful now because Siegelman last week filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court for review of his 2006 convictions on bribery and obstruction of justice charges. This appears to be Siegelman's last crack at appellate review, and if it is denied, he probably is headed back to federal prison. I've probably written more words about the Siegelman affair than just about anyone on the planet, so I might as well take a crack at answering those questions.
Communities Digital News, Whistle Blower Summit: Nacchio & Scrushy fight the government...and lose, Michael Volpe, Aug. 12, 2015. Joseph Nacchio (shown in a file photo at right) and Richard Scrushy were both once CEOs of major corporations. They spoke out. The lesson learned: When the government wants to get you, it will get you.
Legal Schnauzer, Richard Scrushy's Tenacity Might Unearth Evidence Of Prosecutorial Corruption In The Siegelman Case, Roger Shuler (shown in file photo), March 27, 2013. Richard Scrushy, codefendant in the political prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman, is one of the most controversial figures in modern Alabama history. He seems convinced that he was wrongly convicted, that a broken justice system punished him for a non crime, and he remains intent on proving it. I admire that kind of principle and backbone in anyone. And in Scrushy's case, he is absolutely on target--he and Siegelman were railroaded by a bevy of corrupt lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and political operatives. In his most recent brief to the U.S. Eleventh Circuit of Appeals, Scrushy points to the existence of evidence that likely will prove he and Siegelman never should have been prosecuted, much less convicted, under the law. Will Scrushy be allowed access to that evidence, and will he be able to use it in a way that shows the Siegelman case was a cheat job of monstrous proportions? Those questions are at the heart of Scrushy's pending appeal, which included oral arguments before a three-judge panel in Atlanta on March 19.
Peter B. Collins Show, Exclusive: Richard Scrushy Breaks Silence on His Conviction with Gov. Siegelman in Bogus Bribery Case Linked to Karl Rove, Peter B. Collins (shown in photo), April 4, 2013. Richard Scrushy, former HealthSouth CEO who was convicted of bribing former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and served about 6 years in federal prison, gives some new dimensions to the sordid story we’ve covered for many years in this exclusive interview, co-anchored with Roger Shuler of Legal Schnauzer. Scrushy’s rags-to-riches story includes founding and being CEO of HealthSouth, which he built into a giant in its field. In this in-depth interview, he offers his view of the controversial case that sent him and former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman to federal prison. This is the first media interview Scrushy, at right with one of his nine children while imprisoned, has given since being released last summer.
Legal Schnauzer, Richard Scrushy: Convictions In the Siegelman Case Are Grounded In A Former Aide's Flawed Testimony, Roger Shuler, April 8, 2013. Bribery convictions in the Don Siegelman case are based almost entirely on an aide's testimony that he saw the former governor holding a $250,000 check after a meeting with then HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. That scenario, as described under oath by former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey, has a slight flaw--it never happened, according to a man who was central to the alleged transaction. Richard Scrushy, who was released from federal prison last July after serving a six-year sentence, says he never had such a meeting with Siegelman -- and he never gave the governor a check. That is one of several major revelations from Scrushy's one-hour interview last Thursday with San Francisco-based radio host Peter B. Collins. It was Scrushy's first interview about the Siegelman case, and the podcast can be heard in its entirety at peterbcollins.com. Collins invited me to assist with the interview, and I was on the phone line to hear Scrushy describe the case against him and Siegelman as a "farce" and a "joke." In fact, Scrushy still can't seem to believe that it happened.
Legal Schnauzer, Feds Promised To Release Scrushy From Prosecution If He Provided False Testimony Against Siegelman, Roger Shuler, April 9, 2013. Federal prosecutors offered to let Richard Scrushy out of the Don Siegelman case if he agreed to testify in a way that would "give" them the former Alabama governor. Scrushy, the former CEO of Birmingham-based HealthSouth Corporation, said prosecutors gave him several examples of testimony that would help ensure a bribery conviction against Siegelman. None of the proposed statements was truthful, Scrushy said, so he refused the offer. He wound up being convicted and was released from federal prison last July after serving a six-year sentence. Siegelman was released from custody for several years to pursue appeals, but returned to prison last September after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
Legal Schnauzer, Siegelman Case Involved No "Meeting Of The Minds," But Scrushy Still Spent Six Years In Federal Prison, Roger Shuler, April 18, 2013. A fundamental element of a federal-funds bribery case is that the defendants have a "meeting of the minds" on a "something for something" deal known as a quid pro quo. Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy was released from federal prison last summer after serving six years for bribing former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. But Scrushy said he didn't have a "meeting of the minds" with Siegelman on any of the issues that prosecutors claim constituted a crime. In fact, Scrushy says, he didn't meet with Siegelman at all. That's largely because he barely knew Siegelman, he did not support his election campaigns, and he did not support the education lottery that was central to the governor's term--and ultimately, the government's criminal case.
Legal Schnauzer, After Serving Six Years In Prison For a Non-Crime, Scrushy Wishes He Had Testified In Siegelman Case, Roger Shuler, April 30, 2013. Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy says he wishes he had taken the stand in his own defense during the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. "Absolutely, I regret it," Scrushy said when asked in a recent radio interview about not taking the stand. Scrushy told San Francisco-based radio host Peter B. Collins that he was faced with a number of valid reasons for not taking the stand. But after serving six years in federal prison for a "crime" that the public record shows he did not commit, Scrushy said he would do it much differently today.
Federal Judge Mark Fuller and Scandals
Montgomery Advertiser, Affair creates disorder in VictoryLand case, Josh Moon, July 26, 2015. Story Highlights: Total Cost of investigating and prosecuting illegal gambling (since 2009): $9,031,773.60: Former Gov. Bob Riley’s task force on illegal gambling: $3,948,850.69; Storage Fees for confiscated e-bingo machines since October 2013: $326,875.
In June 2011, as the start of the high-profile federal corruption trial involving VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor (shown in photo) and state lawmakers and lobbyists was dominating the state’s media and interest, behind the scenes — in federal Judge Myron Thompson’s chambers and in hearings closed to the public and media — the whole spectacular show was teetering on the edge of collapse because of one name on a witness list. The name belonged to a 27-year-old female court reporter, who had been tasked with transcribing grand jury testimony in the case. It was an odd entry on a witness list filled with prominent names and obvious witnesses, but when FBI agent Keith Baker learned of the entry a few months before the start of the trial, he knew immediately why it was there. Baker, the federal government’s lead investigator on the case, had been involved in an extramarital affair with the court reporter — a breach of ethics for Baker, a possible conflict of interest for both and only the beginning of the sort of odd and unexpected twists that shaped the “Bingo trial.”
Details of Baker’s affair and an alleged coverup are contained in thousands of pages of previously-sealed motions, orders and transcripts from closed hearings and in-chambers conferences, all of which were recently made public when a federal judge granted the Montgomery Advertiser’s motion to unseal those records. The Advertiser filed that motion last September after learning of the sealed records during its reporting on the history of gambling in Alabama. Those proceedings also brought to light a number of other issues, which morphed into their own series of closed-door hearings. Included in that was the revelation that more than 8,000 text messages sent and received by Baker during a key period of the investigation had gone mysteriously missing from both his phone and the backup computer servers at FBI headquarters in Virginia.
After learning of Baker’s transgressions — and then being told by Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin that Baker also had an inappropriate relationship with a female courtroom deputy during former Gov. Don Siegelman’s trial — Thompson let his displeasure be known (Emphasis added). “It is a very serious matter ... and it does compromise the proceedings, at least in appearance, and can compromise it in substance,” Thompson said from the bench during one of the closed hearings. “If a witness was having an affair with my court reporter, I’ll tell you right now, that court reporter would not be working for me tomorrow."
Editor's note: To understand the full significance of the official corruption reported above, read the new July 26 story via the link in its entirety, then our 2012 coverage:
Justice Integrity Project, Alabama's Bingo Nightmare Is Over, But We Still Need Accountability, Roger Shuler, March 9, 2012. One of the most embarrassing episodes in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ended March 7 when a federal jury found that all defendants in the Alabama bingo trial were not guilty. The jury clearly reached the correct verdict -- and after two trials and a months-long, anti-bingo crusade led by former Governor Bob Riley (below right) -- citizens might be tempted to say, "Whew, thank God that's over."
See also, Justice Integrity Project, Feds Lose Big In Alabama Bribery Acquittals, Hung Jury, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 12, 2011. Federal prosecutors suffered one of their most remarkable setbacks nationally in decades Aug. 11 when an Alabama federal jury failed to convict any of nine defendants on any count in a massive gambling corruption case against state senators and those accused of trying to bribe them.
Legal Schnauzer, How far did FBI agent Keith Baker's sex-related misconduct go in the Don Siegelman case, and could it lead to review of possibly tainted convictions? Roger Shuler, July 30, 2105. FBI agent Keith Baker sent electronic messages to a female courtroom deputy during the Don Siegelman trial, and Judge Mark Fuller and Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin were aware of it, according to recently unsealed documents in the Alabama bingo case. Did Baker have a sexual relationship with the courtroom deputy in the Siegelman trial, as he did with [a] court reporter...in the bingo case? Did Baker also have an affair with a juror in the Siegelman case? With how many women from the courtroom did Baker carry on affairs during perhaps the two most high-profile federal prosecutions in modern Alabama history?
Legal Schnauzer, FBI agent Keith Baker intended to turn over grand-jury information to Governor Bob Riley, attorney says, Roger Shuler, July 28, 2015. The chief federal investigator in the Alabama bingo prosecution intended to take grand-jury information to Governor Bob Riley, according to a defense attorney who had viewed text messages between FBI agent Keith Baker and the court reporter with whom Baker was having an extramarital affair. Both Baker, lead agent on the case, and court reporter Mallory McCutchin (she was Mallory Johnson at the time, but since has taken back her maiden name) knowingly subverted the grand-jury process, attorney Jim Parkman said. Editor's note on background: Montgomery Advertiser, Affair creates disorder in VictoryLand case, Josh Moon, July 26, 2015.
Legal Schnauzer, Order released today by Eleventh Circuit shows that Fuller was staring down the barrel at impeachment, Roger Shuler, June 1, 2015. A judicial panel today issued an order saying the conduct of Alabama federal judge Mark Fuller might "constitute one or more grounds for impeachment." That means Fuller was facing serious consequences when he announced his resignation last Friday, in the wake of his arrest last summer on domestic-abuse charges. U.S. Circuit Judge Gerald Tjoflat acted as chief judge in the Fuller matter. Ironically, Tjoflat also served on a three-judge panel that denied initial appeals in the Don Siegelman case. Fuller is best known for overseeing the Siegelman trial, which has come to be seen by many legal experts as perhaps the most notorious political prosecution in U.S. history. From an article by Alyson Palmer at the Atlanta-based Daily Report: When U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Alabama tendered his resignation on Friday, his fellow judges apparently were preparing to send his case to a national judicial body for consideration of possible impeachment by Congress.
On Monday the Judicial Council of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued an order saying the conduct of Fuller, who was arrested on domestic abuse allegations in Atlanta last summer, "might constitute one or more grounds for impeachment." The order referred the matter to the Judicial Conference of the United States, which has the ability to send a judicial discipline matter to the House of Representatives for impeachment.
AL.com, Federal judge Mark Fuller resigns, Edward T. Bowser and Kyle Whitmire, May 29, 2015. United States District Court Judge Mark Fuller has given his resignation to the president and will step down from the bench Aug. 1.
Donald Watkins Facebook, A News Exclusive -- The Straw That Broke Mark Fuller’s Back, Donald V. Watkins, June 16, 2015. Yes, federal judge Mark Fuller is a wife beater. But, it was Fuller’s appetite for sex with a young woman who was not his wife that forced his resignation. Last August, Mark Fuller’s second wife, Kelli Fuller, told police that her husband became violent after she accused him of having an affair with a law clerk in his Montgomery office. Our Facebook news team has learned that Kelli was right when she accused Fuller of cheating. In fact, Fuller and his young paramour were caught in a compromising position in his office one night by a custodian in the courthouse. Federal investigators for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ judicial investigatory panel confirmed the affair and this sexual encounter. Editor's Note: Donald Watkins, shown in his Facebook photo, is a prominent Alabama attorney and businessman who took the lead amongst members in the Deep South bar in calling for the impeachment of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who presided over the controversial imprisonment of Watkins client Richard Scrushy on corruption charges. Under pressure from many sources, Fuller (shown in a photo from one of his courtroom appearances as a defendant) offered to resign his lifetime appointment effective Aug. 1.
New York Times, Federal Judge to Quit Post; He Faced Abuse Charge, Jada F. Smith, May 29, 2015. Mark E. Fuller Credit Brant Sanderlin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press A federal judge who was arrested last summer in Atlanta on accusations of domestic abuse resigned on Friday. The judge, Mark E. Fuller of the Middle District of Alabama, was arrested and charged with battery in August when Kelli Fuller, then his wife, called the police from a Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta, saying he had assaulted her during an argument about her suspicions that he was having an extramarital relationship with a law clerk.
AL.com, Federal judge Mark Fuller resigns, Edward T. Bowser and Kyle Whitmire, May 29, 2015. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller, right, appears in Fulton County Court Friday, Sept. 5, 2014 to face charges of misdemeanor battery, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Brant Sanderlin) United States District Court Judge Mark Fuller has given his resignation to the president and will step down from the bench Aug. 1.
Associated Press via ABC News, 11th Circuit Files Complaint Against Alabama Federal Judge Mark Fuller, Staff report, Aug. 20, 2014. U.S. Circuit Judge Gerald Tjoflat, acting as the chief judge of the 11th Circuit, sent U.S District Judge Mark Fuller a complaint following his arrest to begin the judicial discipline process outlined under federal law, Fuller's attorney, Barry Ragsdale said. While federal judges serve lifetime appointments and can be removed only through impeachment, legal experts say they also are subject to administrative procedures that can result in censure, reprimands or a request for their resignation. Fuller has three weeks to respond to the complaint by Tjoflat.
Facebook, Fuller the Wife-Beater, Dana Jill Simpson, Aug. 16, 2014. You all might enjoy Andy Kreig's new article in Alabama's Milbrook Independent, Siegelman’s Judge Charged With Wife Beating. Andy highlights all that I said about Mark Fuller's role in the Siegelman case years ago. He also mentions how I was furious at the University of Alabama Law School for allowing Fuller to speak on ethics several years back. I thought I would share before you read it exactly why I thought it was so horrible that the university brought Fuller to campus that year.
Above the Law, Clerkships, Crime, Federal Judges, Sex, Sex Scandals, Violence, Staci Zaretsky, Aug. 15, 2014. Federal Judge Accused Of Beating His Wife Allegedly Has Sleazy History With Women. Earlier this week, we brought our readers the sordid tale of Judge Mark Fuller, a federal jurist facing allegations of domestic violence brought by his wife, Kelli Fuller. The good judge is also accused of having an affair with one of his law clerks. Today, we’ve got some additional details about Judge Fuller’s history as an alleged lawyerly Lothario, as well as some updates in the case against him, including the transcript of the 911 call made by his wife during the course of the alleged assault. Judge Fuller’s marriage to his ex-wife, Lisa Boyd Fuller, was allegedly rife with troubles, ranging from adultery to abuse to addiction. His alleged affair with his then-deputy may have contributed to his divorce from his former wife; check out the Request for Admissions that was filed during the course of the divorce, posted on the next page. (Judge Fuller requested that the records be sealed shortly after the shocking document was made public.)
WSFA-TV, Federal Judge Mark Fuller's caseload reassigned in wake of arrest, Posted: Aug 10, 2014, updated Aug 13, 2014. All cases that were pending before Federal Judge Mark Fuller, who presides over legal matters in Alabama's Middle District, are being reassigned to other judges, effective immediately.
Associated Press via Al.com, 'He's beating on me,' wife of judge who presided over Siegelman, Scrushy trials says in 911 call, Staff report, Aug. 13, 2014. The wife of a federal judge arrested earlier this week on suspicion of hitting her told emergency dispatchers that she was being beaten and needed an ambulance. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, meanwhile, has been stripped of his case load in the Middle District of Alabama as he stands charged with misdemeanor domestic battery in a Georgia court. In a recording of a 911 call obtained by The Associated Press, the woman who dialed authorities identified herself as Kelli Fuller and reported that she was involved in a domestic dispute at the Ritz Carlton in downtown Atlanta. "He's beating on me. Please help me," the woman tells the 911 dispatcher before saying that she needed paramedics. The recording was released to AP on Wednesday in response to an open records request.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Federal judge arrested in Atlanta; accused of assaulting wife, Chris Joyner, Aug. 10, 2014. Atlanta police arrested a federal judge Saturday evening on charges that he assaulted his wife. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller was charged with misdemeanor battery and taken to the Fulton County jail around 2:30 Sunday morning. Fuller, 55, is a judge in the Middle District of Alabama and presided over the 2006 bribery trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. According to a jail official, the judge has a 9 a.m. Monday court appearance and was expected to remain in jail overnight. Police responded to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at 181 Peachtree Street at 10:47 p.m. According to Atlanta police spokeswoman Kim Jones, officers spoke to Fuller’s wife, “who stated she was assaulted by her husband.” Fuller’s wife, who was not named by police, was treated by paramedics but refused treatment at a hospital.
Associated Press via WSBT-V (ABC News Birmingham), Federal judge who presided over Siegelman, Scrushy trial in jail, Aug. 10, 2014. Federal Judge Mark Fuller was arrested at an Atlanta hotel Saturday night and taken to the Fulton County jail. He's accused of assaulting his wife. Atlanta police say Fuller's wife called from the Ritz Carlton on Peachtree Street around 10:47 p.m.. She told police she was assaulted by her husband. Officers reported injuries to her. She was treated on scene and refused to go to the hospital. Police say Fuller was not injured.
Legal Schnauzer, Sex, Drugs, and Violence Are At The Heart Of Divorce Case Against Siegelman Judge Mark Fuller, Roger Shuler, May 18, 2012. A request for admissions can be one of the most entertaining documents in a lawsuit. Lisa Boyd Fuller is suing the judge for divorce. If even half of the items in her request for admissions are true, it's a wonder Judge Fuller could even pay attention during the Siegelman case--much less rule correctly on key matters of law, with the freedom of two men at stake. Lisa Fuller's request is filled with sex, drugs, and violence--but no rock and roll (so far). The 18 items hint at a judge with a clouded mind, a nasty temperament, a lust for women other than his wife, and a monumental sense of entitlement.